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Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards?
If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, as a trio of wild-and-woolly cowboy rockers who played their own brand of dirty amped-up tin-shack blues. When their first hit, the lascivious redneck boogie “La Grange,” was released in 1973, there had arguably never been a sonic blast that raw, rough, and nasty on the rock charts (though “Whole Lotta Love” and the opening riff of “Spirit in the Sky” paved the way for it). ZZ Top didn’t sound like a “popular” band. They sounded like the kind of band you hear in a scuzzy Texas roadhouse, or maybe on a backwoods campus.
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That said, the vast majority of rock fans probably don’t know ZZ Top from their ’70s ****-kicker Texas-chainsaw-blues-rock phase. They know them from the early-’80s videos that made them international icons: the badass blues brothers in their shades and matching foot-long hillbilly fuzzbeards, twirling their padded guitars in unison, looking over sexy scenarios that they always stood magically outside of. They presided over those videos, with their vintage cars and glinting keychains, as the unlikeliest of demigods. The videos shrouded their identities and made them larger-than-life.
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Image - ZZ - Top - Little - Ol
That image of ZZ Top was so stylized that early on in “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” Billy Bob Thornton says that when you went to a ZZ Top concert, it was kind of like seeing Bugs Bunny on stage. Joshua Homme, of Queens of the Stone Age, talks about the grand mystery of it all: Who were they? I know the feeling....
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