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 Legs, Gimme 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.