ZZ Top

ZZ Top is the only American band to last 50 years without changing members. Publicity photo.


Most bands only last about five years before calling it quits, much less 50 years, especially with the same members. 

ZZ Top, that little ol’ band from Texas, happens to be the only American band to ever last 50 years without changing any of the three members. 

They formed in Houston in 1969 with guitarist Billy Gibbons as their leader. They had a few lineup changes prior to 1970, but when they signed to London Records that year, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard were permanent members. 

Concert posters covered the walls of their first apartment and Gibbons noticed many artists used initials for their first names, like ZZ Hill or BB King. He loved the letters ZZ and thought of calling the band ZZ King. 

It didn’t sound right to Billy so he changed it to ZZ Top, thinking that if you were the king of Texas blues, you would be on top of the charts. 

They played their first show together on Feb. 10, 1970 at Knights of Columbus Hall in Beaumont. For the next 50 years, Gibbons, Hill and Beard have played every show together, a feat no other band in history has every accomplished.

Bands like the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones have lasted 50 years but not with the same original members. This year they will embark on their 50th anniversary tour and will release a special documentary titled “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas.”

Directed by Sam Dunn and distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment, the feature will be shown in selected theaters around the world. 

The film has ties to our city because the band hand-picked Gruene Hall to film some rare live performance footage for the film. The World Wide 50th Anniversary Tour rolls through our city on June 14 at Whitewater Amphitheater. Tickets are available now at Whitewaterrocks.com.

Country singer Collin Raye comes to town

Collin Raye was one of the biggest country stars of the ’90s. 

He racked up 16 Number 1 hits and 24 Top 10 records. Born in De Queen, Arkansas in 1960, he grew up in a musical household. 

His mother was a local singer who often opened shows for ’50s acts like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. 

At a very young age Collin started a singing duo with his brother Scott. They called themselves the Wray Brothers, which is the original spelling of their last name. 

When Collin moved to Nashville in 1990 he changed the spelling to Raye when he signed with Epic Records. His first album, All I Can Be, was released in 1991 and was certified platinum by the end of the year. 

His next two albums, 1992’s In This Life and Extremes in 1993 both sold over a million copies. 

I spoke with Collin by phone last week to discuss his upcoming show in New Braunfels. 

“When you first start out in the business,” he explained, “everything happens real fast once you get your first hit. I was very lucky to have some great songs at the beginning, like “Every Second,” “In This Life” and “Little Rock.” They all became career songs for me.” 

I asked Collin what fans can expect at his show this Saturday night. 

“When you are just getting started you have to play a lot of cover songs just to fill out your set. Then when you finally have enough hits to fill out your show, you miss playing your favorite cover songs. Now days, I like to mix it up with my songs plus some of my favorite cover tunes.”

Collin has a new album coming soon, one he describes as a collection of Americana songs. When I inform him that our city is in the heart of the Americana music scene, he promised to premiere a few new songs in his set. 

He will also have copies of his autobiography, A Voice Undefeated, for sale after the show. He was inspired to write the book after his granddaughter Haley passed away unexpectedly at 10 years old. 

Local singer songwriter Brandi Brehlen will open the show. Tickets for Collin’s show at the Brauntex Theatre can be purchased at Brauntex.org.

Micky and the Motorcars On Tour

Micky and the Motorcars are touring hard to support their latest album, Long Time Comin’, and will make a stop at Gruene Hall on Friday. The CD features Micky and Gary Braun sharing lead vocals and songwriting chores equally, which is a first for this hard-touring Texas band. 

Normally Micky handles lead vocals and is the primary songwriter, but this time, Gary felt compelled to write more songs and sing the ones he wrote. This new direction was welcomed by younger brother Micky and felt it gives the band a more versatile sound. Like their older brothers Willie and Cody in Reckless Kelly, they all got their start playing in their father Muzzie’s band back home in Challis, Idaho. 

As young boys, they joined their dad when he was invited to play on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Get your tickets at GrueneHall.com and be sure to pick up copies of the new album at the show.  

The Phoenix Saloon Turns Up The Volume

The Phoenix Saloon has a double shot of rock and roll this weekend starting Friday night with Cadillac Drive, a new classic rock band featuring New Braunfels and San Antonio based musicians. 

I saw lead singer Larry Norman when he fronted Phantom 46, and he’s an amazing vocalist. Larry handles guitar and vocals, Steven Vee handles bass, keyboards and vocals and Robert Barrera plays drums and also sings. It’s a power trio in the vein of Cream and the James Gang. On Saturday, there’s two hard rock acts on the bill. 

Opening the show is Sacred Star doing a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio then it’s Seventh Son, doing a tribute to the mighty Iron Maiden. For info on both of these shows, see their website at ThePhoenixSaloon.com.

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