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Billy F Gibbons (born September 16, 1949), nicknamed the Reverend Willie G, is a musician, actor, hot rod and car customizer and perhaps best known as the lead guitarist for ZZ Top. He is also the lead singer and composer for many of the band's songs. Gibbons is known for playing his Gretsch "Billy-Bo" guitar and his 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar known as Pearly Gates and is also noted for using a Mexican Peso coin as a guitar plectrum.A cornerstone in Hollywood, Gibbons remains a familiar fixture at the Sunset Marquis Hotel producing studio sessions with actors Billy Bob Thornton and J.P. Shellnutt along with musicians Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jed Leiber, and Dwight Yoakam.

A connoisseur of Mexican cuisine, Gibbons is also a frequent guest chef around Hollywood preparing his now famous "Renegade Guacamole" and specialty tamales.

History in music

Moving Sidewalks

Gibbons founded the Texas psychedelic group The Moving Sidewalks, which recorded several singles and one full-length album, "Flash." Gibbons and The Moving Sidewalks came to prominence opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience during Hendrix's first American tour. Also notable was the Gibbons-penned song, "99th Floor," its title a nod to the influence on Gibbons of fellow Texans and pioneering psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators. Before that, he starred in the band, "The Saints" with fellow guitarists David Crosswell and Philip Taft with Steve Mickley on drums. While in High School, Gibbons was a member of " The Coachmen" with Bobby "Blue" Braden as well as other classmates.

ZZ Top

Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969 with bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard (both alumni of the bands American Blues, and the Cellar Dwellers). After honing their trademark Texas Boogie-Blues-Rock style, they released the aptly titled "ZZ Top's First Album" on London Records in 1971.

The band rolled on, intensively touring and recording/releasing albums until 1977, when they took an extended hiatus. Their long-time manager/producer/image maker Bill Ham used this time to negotiate a deal that allowed the band to keep control of their previous recordings, to be distributed by their new label, Warner Bros. Records. They reunited two-and-a-half years later in order to start recording under a new Warner Bros. Records contract. Unknown to each other at the time, both Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons had grown the chest-length beards that quickly became a part of their "wild man" image. Despite a short uniform beard in the 1990s, drummer Frank Beard always kept a clean face, with an occasional goatee.

The band hit international prominence and their commercial peak with the release of 1983's multi-platinum-selling disc Eliminator. Named after Gibbons's customized 1933 Ford Coupe (which, along with leggy party girls, was featured in several music videos), Eliminator featured the hits "Legs," "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," and "TV Dinners."

In 1994, the band signed a multi-million dollar, five-disc deal with RCA Records.

In 2003, a comprehensive collection of recordings from the London and Warner Bros. years entitled Chrome, Smoke & BBQ was released. In 2004, ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker. They have the distinction of being among a very small group of bands with a 30-year-plus history that still has all of its original members. , it is reported that ZZ Top is recording their 15th studio album.

Other appearances

Gibbons played the first slide guitar lead on the song "Dead End Streets" on Al Jourgensen of Ministry's side project Revolting Cocks album Cocked and Loaded. He also wrote, played guitar, and sang the song "Willin' For Satisfaction" from Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell's 2005 solo album Two Sides Of If.

Gibbons collaborated with the Queens of the Stone Age on the song "Burn the Witch" from the album Lullabies to Paralyze. ZZ Top's "Precious and Grace" was also recorded with lead vocals provided by Mark Lanegan as a bonus track for the album. Gibbons has also claimed this was one of his favorite collaborations and "Precious and Grace" was later added back into ZZ Top's set lists. Gibbons was also selected to guest the follow-up album Era Vulgaris but was unable to due to scheduling conflicts.

Together with The Raconteurs Gibbons performed at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. Gibbons was part of an ensemble chosen to play with the band, which included Lou Reed and Jim Jarmusch. The performance was heavily edited and cut short by MTV for broadcast. However, the full unedited performance is available on MTV's Website for the VMAs. Although not a full-length performance, Gibbons can also be heard playing a few bars of the ZZ Top classic "La Grange."

Gibbons was one of several artists to participate together with BB King on the song "Tired Of Your Jive," from the B.B. King & Friends album. Gibbons also appeared on Nickelback's album All the Right Reasons on the songs "Follow You Home," "Fight for All the Wrong Reasons" and "Rockstar."

Gibbons performed with country legend Hank Williams's grandson Hank Williams III on the song "Trashville," from his album Lovesick, Broke and Driftin'.

Gibbons also collaborated with the original designer of his favorite guitar "Miss Pearly Gates" Lester William Polsfuss aka Les Paul with his Les Paul & Friends American Made, World Played track "Bad Case of Loving You." Gibbons also performed guitar with John Mayall & Friends' track "Put It Right Back" from the album Along for the Ride.

Gibbons was also a guest vocalist on Kid Rock's "Hillbilly Stomp" from the album Kid Rock.

Gibbons was also the guitarist during singer Luis Fonsi's presentation at the 7th Latin Grammy awards held in Madison Square Gardenmarker, New Yorkmarker, on November 2, 2006. Lately Gibbons also sang background vocals on former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar's 2008 CD Cosmic Universal Fashion during the song "Switch on the Light."

Gibbons collaborated with Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn fame, for Ronnie's first solo work, playing guitar and singing along on the song, "Honky Tonk Stomp".

He played guitar on "Broke Down On the Brazos", the opening track of Gov't Mule's 2009 album By a Thread.

Gibbons has a recurring role, on the Fox network TV series Bones. He plays a fictionalized version of himself, as the father of Michaela Conlin's character Angela Pearly Gates Montenegro. Note Conlin's character's middle name is the same as Gibbons' trademark Les Paul guitar.

Musical equipment


Gibbons tunes his stage guitars to E standard tuning when doing live performances. For his studio work, he sometimes detunes his guitar to a D, C, B and sometimes even to a A. For his slide work Gibbons often uses Open E or Open A tuning. Gibbons sometimes substitutes picks with quarters or Mexican pesos. Gibbons' equipment has varied considerably throughout his career, always in the service of maintaining his signature sound.
  • 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul - Nicknamed Miss Pearly Gates.
  • Gibson Les Paul - A close copy of Miss Pearly Gates, used on live performances.
  • 1958 Gibson Les Paul - Used on "Just Got Paid". Set up with heavier strings and higher action for slide.
  • Gibson "Goldtop" Les Paul - John Bolin custom, with three control knobs, no pickup selector and pinstriping.
  • Gibson 1958 Korina Flying V - Bought off the street for 300 dollars by Gibbons.
  • Gibson Custom with Texas shaped body - Used during the Worldwide Texas Tour.
  • Gretsch Custom - Built for Bo Diddley later donated to Gibbons, never used live.
  • Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird - A replica modeled after the Bo Diddley custom guitar.
  • Custom Jupiter Thunderbird Bigsby - A custom built Jupiter fitted with a Bigsby vibrato.
  • Custom Reversed Jupiter Thunderbird - A custom made model of the Jupiter but with a reversed body.
  • John Bolin Billy Gibbons Super Model - Telecaster style body with two hollowed out compartments which contain one cigarette in the middle and one 'handrolled' in the neck compartment.
  • Custom Telecaster - With rubber top, allowing Gibbons to stab it with knives during live performances.
  • Fender Esquire (aka "Bones") - Equipped with Seymour Duncan stacked bridge humbucker to replicate the sound of his Miss Pearly Gates.
  • James Trussart Steelcaster - Telecaster-style guitar with steel body and "Rust-O-Matic" finish.
  • John Bolin Crazy Cowboy - White semi-hollowbody guitar.
  • Dean Explorer - Called the Fuzzy Explorer because of it being covered in fuzzy fur.
  • Dean Shrimpfork Explorer - Red finish.
  • 1951 Fender Esquire - Used during the recording of Eliminator.
  • 1956 Fender Stratocaster - With sunburst finish used for overdubs on Rio Grande Mud.
  • 1955 Fender Stratocaster - Hardtail version with maple neck used on Tres Hombres.
  • 1959 Fender Stratocaster - Maple neck used on Fandango.
  • Fender Stratocaster - Pink finish, donated to Gibbons by Jimi Hendrix.
  • Custom-made Telecaster - This guitar is also made by John Bolin called "Big Tex".
  • Schoen Guitars Apache Dynamite - 5-stringed Cigar Box Guitar.
  • Gibson Melody Maker - Gibbons first guitar which he got at age 13.


  • 4 Z.Vex Nano Heads - Billy would use these with an artifact called "The Lap Dog". The Lap Dog was created from an old empty lantern with a Van de Graaff Generator inside. It has a carved African dog head on top and four of the Z.Vex Nano Heads daisy-chained together and mounted alongside.

  • Billy is currently using the MK 4.23 Boost and Holy Fire Overdrive pedals by Creation Audio Labs.

Rack equipment:

October 2008

One power amp goes to a couple of Demeter Isolation Cabinets, each loaded with Eminence Guvnor Speaker. The other goes to the onstage 4x12 cabinets.

Here are some other effects that he's used over the years:

  • Gooby Bag Of Dicks Fuzz Pedal
  • Analog Man SunLion, Sunface, and Beano Boost
  • Foxx Tone Machine
  • Pro Analog MKIII Fuzz pedal
  • Pro Analog Power Driver
  • Pro Analog Dual Drive
  • BK Butler Real Tube
  • Bixonic Expandora - Billy would use six of these with different settings.



The Moving Sidewalks

ZZ Top

Guest singles

Year Single Artist Chart positions Album
US Country US CAN Country
2009 "Honky Tonk Stomp" Brooks & Dunn 16 96 8 #1s… and Then Some

Television appearances

  • Guest appearance on the sitcom Yes, Dear. Greg, Jimmy, Kim and Christine are waiting to be seated at a fancy restaurant and they see Billy Gibbons sitting at a table. Jimmy puts out the candle near his beard because he doesn't want it to ignite.
  • Guest appearance on the animated show King of the Hill.
  • Guest appearance on the Fox television series Bones. Billy Gibbons plays himself, as the father of Angela Pearly Gates Montenegro (portrayed by Michaela Conlin), in the episodes "The Man in the Fallout Shelter" and "Stargazer in a Puddle". In this episode it was also revealed that Angela's middle name is "Pearly Gates". Gibbons' signature '59 Gibson Les Paul is named "Miss Pearly Gates". That guitar inspired the Seymour Duncan designed "Pearly Gates" humbucking pickup. Gibbons returned for an additional guest appearance in the Season 4 episode "The Science in the Physicist", where he exacts revenge on Hodgins (played by T.J. Thyne) for his breakup with Angela by getting him a tattoo that reads "Angie Forever".
  • Guest appearance on the show Criss Angel Mindfreak. Gibbons performs following one of the magician's illusions.
  • His most recent television appearance was on Austin City Limits as part of the band backing Roky Erickson. He was also interviewed on a recent episode of KLRU's series Texas Monthly Talks.
  • Occasionally, Gibbons is highlighted in the audience on WWE Television, most recently on the February 2 edition of WWE Smackdown.
  • He was featured in the Nickelback song Rockstar as well as the video.
  • Gibbons is also featured in a Johnny Cash video from 2007.
  • Guest appearances for SOCAL Speed Shop's "Hard Shine" series
  • Guest appearances on "Monster Garage" with Jesse James
  • Featured with Farrah Fawcett on "Table 31" preparing his famous "Renegade Guacamole"
  • appeared on Sesame Street performing velcro fly with Grover


External links

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