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c. 1968 - 1973

ZZ Top before the beards

The band at the beginning of their career, before growing into their now signature look

American drummer Frank Beard, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, bassist and co-lead vocalist Dusty Hill, of hard rock band ZZ Top, in a room at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Leonard M. DeLessio/Corbis via Getty Images)

Here is one of the most delicious ironies in all of rock music: ZZ Top’s drummer is the only member of the Texas trio not to have a beard. His name? Frank Beard.

But way back in time, Frank was not alone. It’s true that their 1983 album Eliminator sold 10 million copies in the USA alone, spawning at least three bona-fide classic in LegsGimme All Your Lovin’ and Sharp Dressed Man

That year the hirsute group, in (cheap) sunglasses and oversized cowboy hats, seemed to be a permanent fixture on MTV. But ZZ Top had been around way longer.

The band—singer & guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist & singer Dusty Hill, plus the aforementioned Mr Beard—got together more than decade before, in 1969.

Gibbon’s previous outfit, the Moving Sidewalks, had opened for Jimi Hendrix. And a full ten years before the all-conquering Eliminator, ZZ Top had already had their first top ten record, with the album Tres Hombres.

This was a hardworking band. For seven years, they hit the road and did not stop touring. Worn to pieces, in 1976, the Top took a planned three month break.

The three months was extended, and extended, and turned into two years.

Yet the two years was not entirely unproductive. When the band reemerged from hibernation, Hill and Gibbons had grown vast, chest-length beards. Frank Beard declined to participate and stuck to his moustache.

These pictures show the band at the beginning of their career, before the beards.

Gibbons is clean-shaven, though Hill is already showing a reasonable amount of facial hair.  Mr Beard, meanwhile, sports the moustache that still graces his upper lip today.

1968
Gibbons’ “The Moving Sidewalks” poses for a portrait with rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix whom they opened for at the Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas. Gibbons is 2nd from the right.
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1973
Hill and Gibbons at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta.
Tom Hill / WireImage
1973
Gibbons at the Chattanooga Municipal Auditorium, Tennessee
Tom Hill / WireImage
1973
ZZ Top performing on stage.
Beth Gwinn / Redferns
1974
Frank “Rube” Beard of ZZ Top during a ZZ Top in Concert at the Macon Coliseum, Georgia.
Tom Hill/WireImage
1974
Gibbons at the Macon Coliseum.
Tom Hill / WireImage
1975
Frank Beard, Billy Gibbons, and Dusty Hill at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Leonard M. DeLessio / Corbis via Getty Images
1980
ZZ Top
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1980
ZZ Top
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
1984
Frank Beard, Dusty Hill, and Billy Gibbons, Los Angeles, California
Aaron Rapoport / Corbis / Getty Images

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