Billy Gibbons - Impressive Facts You Didn't Know

Billy Gibbons – 25 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know

William Frederick Gibbons is an American rock musician best known as the guitarist and main vocalist for the band ZZ Top. He was born on December 16th 1949 in the Tanglewood neighbourhood of Houston, Texas. Billy is one of the best blues-rock guitarists to ever emanate from Texas.

Above are facts you probably already know, keep reading for 25 impressive facts about Billy Gibbons you didn’t know.

He Formed His First Band When He Was 14

For his 13th birthday in 1963 Billy was given a Gibson Melody Maker electric guitar and a Fender Champ amplifier. A few months after that, he formed his first band, naming them “The Saints”.

He Was A Member Of Moving Sidewalks

By the mid 1960s Billy had joined a band called “The Coachmen” who were an early psychedelic band inspired by the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Texan band 13th Floor Elevators. Billy’s band eventually changed their name to “Moving Sidewalks” and released the album “Flash”.

He Toured With Jimi Hendrix

Billy Gibbons along with his band “Moving Sidewalks” toured in support of Jimi Hendrix. It is reported that Hendrix had nothing but good to say about Billy’s guitar playing.

He Was Shown How To Play “Foxy Lady” By Jimi Hendrix

Billy Gibbons has said at a number of shows that Jimi Hendrix taught him how to play “Foxy Lady” when he was “about 17 in Dallas”.

He Formed ZZ Top In 1969

“Moving Sidewalks” disbanded in 1969 and Billy wanted to form a more blues based band. He met up with fellow Texans Dusty Hill (bass) and Frank Beard (drums) and ZZ Top were formed. They took their name from a play on B.B. King’s name, Billy said, they were going to be ZZ King but then he reasoned that a king is always on top and so ZZ Top became their name.

He’s Part Of A Band With The Longest Continuous Lineup

Since 1970 when the trio got together (ZZ Top originally had a different drummer and bassist) their lineup remained the same until 2021 when bassist Dusty Hill passed away. The trio remained together for over 50 years.

SEE ALSO: The Best ZZ Top Songs (list with chords & lyrics)

He Wouldn’t Remove His Beard For $1 million (Allegedly)

Billy Gibbons is reported to have been offered $1 million to remove his beard for a Gillette TV commercial. Billy says he wouldn’t remove his beard because he’s “too damned ugly without it”. 

Apparently both Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill received the same offer but both declined. The only member of ZZ Top not to receive the offer was drummer Frank Beard who is clean shaven, ironic considering his surname.

He Appeared In The TV Series Bones

Billy Gibbons has appeared in 7 episodes of the TV series Bones over a 9 year period. His character is a fictionalised version of himself. He is never referred to by name during any of the episodes, only as “Angela’s father”.

He Was Also In The Cartoon Show The King Of The Hill

Billy along with his ZZ Top band mates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard voiced fictionalised versions of themselves in the cartoon series King Of The Hill. Dusty Hill is said to be the cousin of the show’s main character Hank Hill.

He Has His Own Sauce Brand

Billy Gibbons teamed up with Mojo Products, LLC, a Texas based company to launch a line of barbeque sauces, hot sauces and other products with his personal branding “BFG Brand” in 2011. 

The following year he featured in several TV commercials for “Fiesta Mart” a Texas supermarket chain, with some of the “BFG Brand sauces” visible in the commercials.

He Collects Classic Cars

Billy is an avid classic car collector. He owns a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 (which he calls CadZilla), a 1962 Chevrolet Impala (which he calls Slampala), a 1950 Ford Business Coupe and a 1958 Ford Thunderbird. 

One of his earliest custom cars, a 1933 Ford Coupe (which he calls Eliminator), was featured in 3 of ZZ Top’s music videos and also features on the cover of their 1983 album also called “Eliminator”.

He Has Been A Beard Judge

Billy Gibbons appeared as the guest judge at the 5th annual Misprint Beard and Moustache Contest at the Mohawk Club in Austin, Texas.

He Wrote A Book About Cars

In 2011 Billy published a book entitled “Billy F Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead” which was all about his love of cars and guitars. It features over 48 guitars and 10 custom cars as well as stories of his life as a rock star.

He Wears A Chief’s Hat

Billy Gibbons was well known for wearing a Stetson hat, but for the last few years he is always seen wearing a braided cloth cap. He got this during a trip to Vienna where he met the chief of the Bamileke people from Cameroon. They swapped hats and Billy has pretty much worn his cap ever since.

He Swapped Guitar Strings On B.B. King’s Say So

Billy always used heavy gauge guitar strings during the early days of ZZ Top. However, after playing a show with legendary blues guitarist B.B King, he changed to light gauge strings. This was because B.B. King asked to play Billy’s guitar, after playing it for a while, B.B King asked Billy “Why you working so hard?” 

Billy said he thought that the only way to play the blues guitar properly was with heavy gauge strings. B. B. King said he only ever uses light gauge strings. Billy swapped straight after and has used light gauge strings ever since.

AS MENTIONED IN: Light Vs Medium Guitar Strings (here’s how to choose)

He Has His Own Signature String Set

Dunlop produces a Billy Gibbons signature string brand. They are called “Rev. Willy’s Mexican Lottery Brand”. They’re available in all gauges but Billy uses an extra light set of .07, .09, .11, .20, .30, .38 on his guitars. 

Under the “Rev. Willy’s Mexican Lottery Brand” there are not just strings, there are also guitar picks and slides available.

He Sold His Car To Buy A Guitar

Way back in 1968, Billy bought a 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar from a farmer in Houston, Texas for $250. He named the guitar “Pearly Gates” which was the name of the hot rod car he sold to get the money to buy the guitar.

That guitar has been used on every ZZ Top album since the band formed in 1969.

SEE ALSO: What Guitar Does Billy Gibbons Use?

He Was Gifted A Guitar By Bo Diddley

Billy owns an extremely rare Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird which was given to him by Bo Diddley. He used the guitar on ZZ Top’s 2003 album “Mescalero” which inspired a signature production model, the Gretsch Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbird.

He Started A Solo Project In 2015

On July 31st 2015 Billy Gibbons announced the name of his solo project. They were to be called “Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s”. They released their debut album “Perfectamundo” on November 6th 2015. 

His Second Solo Album Won An Award At The 40th Blues Music Awards

In May 2019, Billy’s 2nd solo album, “The Big Bad Blues” which was released on September 21st 2018 was named as “Blues Rock Album of the Year”. The album charted at number 19 in the UK and number 73 in the US on the Billboard 200 chart.

He Contributed A Track On The Def Leppard’s Guitarists Solo Album

Billy Gibbons wrote, played guitar and sang on the track “Willin’ For Satisfaction” on the album “Two Sides Of If” Def Leppard’s guitarist Vivian Campbell’s solo album.

He Features On 3 Tracks On One Of Nickelback’s Albums

It is well known that Billy Gibbons features on Nickelback’s track “Rockstar”. But you might not be aware that “Rockstar” is only one of the tracks on the album “All The Right Reasons” that features Billy Gibbons. 

He also appears on the tracks, “Follow You Home” and “ Fight For All The Wrong Reasons” on the same album. As well as appearing in the music video for “Rockstar”.

He Has Collaborated With Many Famous Artists

Billy Gibbons is like a one man who’s who, he has worked with so many artists that it would be easier to compile a list of artists he hasn’t collaborated with. 

Some of the artists he has worked with includes; Nickelback, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slash, Eric Johnson, Rick Nielsen, Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch, The Raconteurs, Ronnie Dunn, Hank Williams III, Les Paul, B.B. King, Lemmy, Dave Grohl, Brooks & Dunn, Diamante Eléctrico, Al Jourgensen, John Mayall, Kid Rock, Luis Fonsi, Sammy Hagar, Jeff Beck and many more.

He Created A Type Of Guitar Pickup

Released under the “Rev Willy” brand name, Billy worked with Thomas Nilsen from Cream T Pickups and created the BFG Banger humbucker pickup. It was unveiled at the 2010 Winter NAMM show along with the picks, slides and strings under the same brand.

He Used To Use A Peso For A Pick

Billy Gibbons has said in the past that he uses a Mexican peso as a pick because it gives him greater control of the strings. He has since started using a plastic pick.

How Many More Impressive Facts Do You Know?

That’s our 25 impressive facts about Billy Gibbons, how many more do you know? Please let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Christmas song did Billy Gibbons team up with Lemmie and Dave Grohl on?

The Christmas song that Billy Gibbons teamed up with Lemmie and Dave Grohl on was “Run Rudolph Run” taken from the compilation album “We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year” which was released in 2008.

What was the name of the band Billy Gibbons was in that toured with Jimi Hendrix?

The name of the band that Billy Gibbons was in that toured with Jimi Hendrix was “Moving Sidewalks”.

What is the name of Billy Gibbons’ car that is featured on the cover of ZZ Top’s 1983 album “Eliminator”?

The name of the car that features on the cover of ZZ Top’s 1983 album “Eliminator” is also “Eliminator” and is owned by band member Billy Gibbons.

What name did Billy Gibbons give to his 1959 sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar?

Billy Gibbons bought his sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar from a Texan farmer for $250. He named it “Pearly Gates” because that was the name of the car he sold in order to pay for the guitar.

What Guitar was Billy Gibbons given as his first guitar for a birthday present when he was 13?

The Guitar that Billy Gibbons was given as his first guitar for a birthday present when he was 13 was a Gibson Melody Maker.

What is the title of Billy Gibbons And The BFGs debut album?

The title of Billy Gibbons solo project, Billy Gibbons And The BFGs debut album is “Perfectamundo” which was released on November 6th 2015.

What did Billy Gibbons famously use to play the guitar years gone by?

In the past, Billy Gibbons was famous for using a Mexican Peso coin as a pick. He recently reverted to using a plastic pick.

What is Billy Gibbons sauce brand name?

In 2011, Billy Gibbons teamed up with the Texas based Mojo Products LLC to produce his own line of sauces under the name of BFG Brand.

Which animated cartoon series did Billy Gibbons and his ZZ Top band mates appear in?

Billy Gibbons and his band mates from ZZ Top appeared in the animated cartoon series “King Of The Hill”. In the series the lead character is Hank Hill. In the episode ZZ Top were in Dusty Hill is supposed to be a cousin of Hanks.

How old was Billy Gibbons when he formed his first band?

Billy Gibbons was 14 years old when he formed his first band, he called them “The Saints”.

What was the name of Billy Gibbons’ first band?

Billy Gibbons’ first band was called “The Saints”, he formed the band when he was a 14 year old school boy.

Where was Billy Gibbons born?

Billy Gibbons was born in the Tanglewood neighbourhood of Houston Texas, USA.

Which TV series has Billy Gibbons appeared in on 7 separate episodes?

Billy Gibbons has appeared in 7 separate episodes of the TV series “Bones” he plays a fictionalised version of himself. He is never called by name and is always referred to as “Angela’s father”.

What is Billy Gibbons’ favourite type of food?

Billy Gibbons is apparently a big fan of Mexican food.

Which Billy Gibbons song contains the lines “Well flowers okay It’s all about what you say, sweets will do, diamonds will too”?

The Billy Gibbons that song contains the lines “Well flowers okay It’s all about what you say, sweets will do, diamonds will too” is “missin’ yo’ kissin’” which is taken from the album “The Big Bad Blues” which was released in 2018.

What is the title of the 2005 Nickelback album that Billy Gibbons features on?

The title of the 2005 Nickelback album that Billy Gibbons features on is “All The Right Reasons”. Billy features on 3 tracks on the album which are; “Follow You Home”, “Fight for All the Wrong Reasons” and “Rockstar”. He also appears in the music video for “Rockstar”.

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