Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Linden Odell Hudson, Oct 8, 2021.
Thanks for that. I do keep memoirs just in case, and in a way this is practice.
Linden was your relationship with the band ever partially repaired? Seems like you and Frank were great friends at one time. Were you ever able to talk with him again? Seems sad that things went down the way they did and friendships were fractured as a result.
Billy left a message on my answering machine about 10 years after eliminator, left his phone number, I didn't call him back. In recent years Billy has said a few nice things about me to the press and Frank has said pissy things about me to the press. Dusty was just good ole Dusty, he and I had no friction. But, there has been no communication between me and them since Eliminator.
Putting aside the bad stuff, would you comment just a bit on what it was like to listen to Billy working out songs in the early years? To me his genius was being able to add a tasty, unique solo to almost every song. Rio Grande Mud and Tres Hombres had such killer solos, on EVERY song. I have never tired of listening to ZZ Music up until Afterburner. Were you there to experience Billy and the band's creating songs?
I was fortunate enough to meet Dusty 3 or 4 times and and I agree he seemed to be the most down to earth person you could ever hope to meet. Seems like he always had the time for his fans.
Gibbons was supreme at guitar (is savant a good word?) When we were working on Hippy Pad I sat at a little mixer and Gibbons sat on a stool across from me. Even when we were just talking he's have a guitar in his hand and always noodling. I could give good feedback because I once was a fair guitarist as a teen, I was a DJ at a hard rock station for a couple of years and got rock and roll pounded in my head pretty well, I spent off and on several years engineering in small studios so I was good and comfortable critiqing and feeding back to guitar players or drummers, and vocalists for sure. What Im saying is that I was hard to impress but Billy was a savant or whatever. The licks in his head he could play as soon as he thought it, on the fly, I worked well with him, giving feedback, giving ideas, he needed that. He's as good at guitar as he is bad at treating his friends. Im saying good and bad, that's what a person is. But, Gibbons and I got along well because we were both rock and roll fiends.
Yes, savant is the perfect word for guitarist Gibbons. Thank you for your insights.
Did Billy have a usual way of coming up with songs? What I mean is, would he come in with a collection of tunes almost ready to go with a little work, or were the things you were present for built up out of bits and pieces Billy was carrying in his head?
Different on every song. For example, as Ive told, he and I sat and rapidly built up a song:: "Under Pressure". I did as much as he did and I even had him change some of his lyrical ideas and put mine in too. For example: Billy kind of sometimes comes up with dirty/cheese lyrics. In that song he wanted to say "She won't let me use my dipstick". I groaned and said let's make it a little classier, that just sounds silly. I said "how about she won't let me use my passion". He shrugged and said "ok". We both worked equally on that and did a demo on it too. He was synthesizing licks in his head and we just walked away with a song on tape (yea, we used tape back then uh huh). I promise, he and I wrote it. We didn't always make that much progress in such short time, but he was super satisfied that we had another in a few hours. The demo we did that day is posted on youtube, even that tape sounds pretty good. Part of it is posted at: (1) ZZ TOP "ELIMINATOR ALBUM" ORIGINAL REHEARSAL TAPES - YouTube
A different situation was working on "I got the six". Billy and I had put together a rhythm track for a song. The next day it so happened all 3 guys ended up there at Franks house. We all stood in the middle of the room (4 of us, not 3) and we spit out word ideas and in a few minutes we 4 had written the lyrics. They were drop dead simple, drop dead silly. But everyone smiled. That demo is here: (1) ZZ Top - "I Got The Six" Original Rehearsal Tape (Eliminator Song) - YouTube
I put a mic on a stand and we coached Dusty through a few jams and it was pretty fast that it was just finished, you can hear what we did at that link (but that song took a couple of days, was still pretty easy and simple.
Not only is it not fair to the other guys in the band, the road crew and people who work for the band NEED that income, they're relying on it.
That's why Charlie told the Stones that they needed to proceed without him - for the crew relying on them.
Linden, you clearly should have received at least some sort of writing credit on some songs. Was it just awkward to ask Billy to add you to a song credit, or was it just an impossibility? I've read that Ham ruled with an iron fist in business matters, but when someone like you wrote lyrics and helped with song structure it seems obvious (to an outsider) that you receive credit and payment. I have a feeling that back in those days you sort of just went with the flow, since you were as much pals with Frank as you were doing work for pay with the band.
You got it right toward the end there. I am easy going, and I thought Gibbons and I were old friends. Ten years before Eliminator I had been a well known rock DJ at KLOL in Houston and when Gibbons released his first ZZ album I would invite him on my show often and we'd plug his new record while we talked and educated listeners on blues rock. I even emceed one of their first concerts in 1970 in a dancehall (not really a concert there were only 30 people there). I sang a song with ZZ at the end of the show (jammed a song, jamming is good, people don't understand it). Sorry, I'm getting carried away. Back to Eliminator writing, Billy was assuring me that they would take care of me (and they did, but in the bad sense). I was used. He lead me to believe everything would work out for me.
Im kind of fading for the day but I'll comment briefly. I sort of figured out that Billy wasn't telling Ham that I was involved. Ham was never around (occasional but not often). Gibbons was going by and hand delivery our demos to Ham couple times a week. Ham thought it was the band on the tapes. If you think this is getting complicated then Ive made that point, and yes, whatever Bill Ham could control he would, and he was like a wall around the band. So, Billy was always going rogue so he could get around Ham and the hard core rules. I was quickly learning this as we waded through our little project. It was my fear that caused me to copyright Thug. Billy liked it and I felt uneasy.
I was watching the Germany 1980 DVD with my guitar player and his dad, and during the "Fool For Your Stockings" rap my guitar player's dad rolls his eyes and goes "he (Billy Gibbons) was always so full of ****..."
Die Stringtheorie Teil II: Die besten Bassisten der Welt – laut.de – Seite 26/50
"Even though Leland looks like Vader Abraham and you're always just waiting for the Flute Smurf, the man is one of the silent monsters on the axe. Should Dusty Hill ever drop out of ZZ Top, Leland would be the logical choice as a replacement. However, he would probably play the good Dusty to the wall. Drummer Frank Beard might even wake up in between when the 65-year-old Lee really turns it up. Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Amy Grant or Engelbert Humperdinck know what they have in him. The music world speaks with the greatest respect of the intoxicating beard.
Weapon Of Choice: 5-String Fender"
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
It's probably one of the biggest music forums out there, and founded by an engineer (Steve Hoffman), so you do fit right in
If you go to the top and click on "Forums" or "Music Corner" you can see just how much is being discussed here, in case you want to talk about anything else than ZZ Top
Thanks, that fills in another little blank - I did wonder how it happened that this song was copyrighted before it was released. A good move.
That may be one consideration involved, but altruism and loyalty is surely not the only consideration. When companies don't need workforce they simply lay people off, and the music business is more cutthroat than most businesses they say...usually lacking in altruism and loyalty....it might make a good PR angle though.
I also learned this the hard way, but I learned it quickly/early on, and this yet again illustrates the lesson:
No matter the situation, regardless of whether we're talking about friends, etc. or not, one should never do any work without a contract (or at least a written/signed agreement among the participants) unless one doesn't care if one isn't paid or credited for the work. It's not only for your protection, it's for the protection of the people you're working with, too.
I'm not saying I don't believe this, but it's always bizarre to me when I hear stuff like this. I've always made it clear to managers, agents, producers, etc. that they work for me (or for the band). I'm/the band is their boss. If they want to keep their job, they don't make rules that I/the band need to adhere to against my/our preferences.
Here is a short story about a day in the life of me with ZZ, it's important because it gives insight into the insane situation. This is accurate and it was in Dave Blayney's book (per his interviews with me) Dave was ZZs first roadie and their stage manager for 15 years, he knew them, RIP Dave :
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK : "Bill Ham (ZZ Top manager) dropped by Frank's place to hear some of the music, he consequently didn't realize Linden's integral role in what had been going on. As the Boys and Ham were filing into the studio to get started, Ham's inclinations toward secrecy in all things got the best of him.
"Boy", he said to Linden, measuring the technician patronizingly, "We won't be needin' you now". Linden looked over at Billy, and Billy rolled his eyes. Everybody still deferred to Ham's wishes, so Linden got into his car and drove off to take in a double feature.
When he returned some five hours later, Linden found Billy sitting alone in the darkened studio, softly strumming his guitar without amplification. The image was spectral: a rock and roll star whose blues riffs on stage were so loud that they nearly blew out the lights was playing almost soundlessly in he shadows. Billy looked up with a friendly, quizzical grin.
"What's going on, man?" Linden asked curiously. Was it some new creative twist in Billy's mind?
Not hardly. The simple fact was that Linden was the only person around who knew how to turn everything on. Billy told him that as Linden was strolling out to his car unnoticed, the Boys were trying to explain to Bill Ham that Linden was the studio architect and integral to making the whole electronic concoction (page 199) work properly. He had built it; moreover, it was his direct technical assistance that had produced what Eliminator was proving to be.
The manager's reaction to all of this was pure Bill Ham. "Ahhh, I can turn this stuff on!" And he began rooting around in the gear.
"I'm telling you, you shoulda been here," Billy laughed. "Ham was on his hands and knees for twenty minutes tryin' to find the right switches to turn on. When he finally realized that he couldn't do it, he left in a bad mood!"
Ham never again questioned having Linden at his station on the recording console. He probably didn't want to risk wearing out the knees of his best pants again looking for switches to flip."
(End Book Quote, RIP Dave)
Note: Dave flattered me a bit by saying it was my assistance that was so important to Eliminator. But, I was just part of it, I always stress I was on a team. There would still have been an Eliminator album, but it wouldve been different. Please note that.
Linden do you recall what Frank liked to do in his spare time? I heard he was big into golfing and racing cars. Seems like he had lots of other interests outside the band.
Linden - you have mentioned that Bill Ham was was rarely around during the recording process, yet he is the listed producer on every Z.Z. Top album from the debut until Antenna in 1994 when Billy is finally listed as co-producer. Did Ham actually do anything production-wise in your time with the band or was it just an honorary title and possibly a way to extract further money in production royalties?
Golf. Sometimes poker with a few friends roadies etc.. He hated touring but did it for 38 more years, he needed that as he wouldn't like working at Burger King.
The term producer is very general and a catch all and can mean different things. Ham wasn't really a studio genius at all, he was more like an executive producer in my opinion. I barely knew him. Hardly saw him.
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