Billy Gibbons

Along with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons is unquestionably one of the finest blues-rock guitarists to ever emerge from Texas. Born on either March 4 or December 16, 1950 (both dates have been given in the past), and raised in Houston, TX, Gibbons grew up in a home that favored both classical and country sounds, but upon discovering Elvis Presley via an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Gibbons became transfixed by rock & roll. It wasn't long before he discovered other early rock & rollers (Little Richard) as well as bluesmen (Jimmy Reed) via a local radio station. Soon after receiving a Gibson Melody Maker electric guitar and a Fender Champ amp for Christmas in 1963, Gibbons began emulating his heroes -- forming his first band when he was 14 (the Saints). The guitarist later joined a group around the mid-'60s called the Coachmen, who specialized in more psychedelic-based sounds, inspired by the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and the local Texas outfit 13th Floor Elevators (led by a young Roky Erickson). Gibbons' band eventually changed their name to the Moving Sidewalks, issuing a lone album in 1968, Flash, although an early single, "99th Floor," would later receive attention when included years later on the Pebbles: Vol. 2 compilation. While the Moving Sidewalks never made a splash outside of Texas, Gibbons must have been pleased when Jimi Hendrix (with whom the Sidewalks toured with around this time) began endorsing the guitarist as one of his favorite new players to the media.

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