BILLY GIBBONS - The Loudest Book In Texas
by Martin Popoff
ZZ TOP axe purveyor extraordinaire is currently on a whirlwind signing tour for his swellegant cars 'n' guitars coffee table book Rock + Roll Gearhead. To say it's been a success would be an understatement - The Indigo Books in downtown Toronto sold out their entire stock of the book - approximately 300 - which all got signed (beautifully I might add) by Billy, who also dutifully and good-naturedly put his black Sharpie to guitars and even a car grill.
Rock + Roll Gearhead (MBI Publishing) gathers gorgeous shots of Billy's two famous collections - his guitars and his cars, seen in all those iconic videos and press shots, but it is so much more. Also told, in down home fashion, is the history of ZZ Top, flanked by rare shots of the band and of memorabilia. There's also automotive and six-string tech talk for miles, but Gibbons' enthusiasm and tall tale-tellin' sense of style sweeps you along, until you're dreaming of cruising to that next gig, chopped, amped, full of Mexican food.
"It's an interesting question," ponders Billy warily, on the contentions question of why guys seem to collect more often and more intensely than gals. "Perhaps we ought to take a moment and go shopping with the ladies. We may learn something. It may change the landscape."
"Our collection of guitars started on the chase to find an instrument that sounded like our cornerstone, as we call it. Pearly Gates, the famous 1959 Les Paul, sunburst gee-tar. And as time went on, we wound up with a rather nice warehouse full of lumber, discovering along the way that they are all different, they all have their own personality. It's really quite fascinating that on any given day, even two guitars made in the exact same manner, they sound different, and they play different. It's an unusual thing. So Pearly Gates, is, of course, the cornerstone. In terms of sentimental value, there's the one that Gretsch made for Bo Diddley, which was a gift... when we first started, back in 1972, now reissued as an instrument called The Billy-Bo, from Gretsch, which has its own special quality to it (laughs). It is quite sentimental. Nice one. Fierce player."
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