Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Linden Odell Hudson, Oct 8, 2021.
That's kind. Thank you.
(This story happened when I lived at Frank Beard's house)
FUNNY AS HELL: One afternoon Frank Beard (ZZ's drummer) said to me "hey Linden, I wanna put a ceiling fan in me and Deb's bedroom, can we do it ourselves, do you know how?" "Sure" I said "but you've gotta help me". "Ok" said Frank. So, after dinner we got a couple of chairs and stood on them and opened the box and started putting in the ceiling fan. Deb (Frank Beard's wife) sat on the floor with a glass of wine and watched. When we got through we stepped off the chairs and Frank said "let's try her out" and he flipped the switch and the fan started spinning. "Cool" said Frank smiling. He then got a light bulb to put in the bulb fittings and stood up on the chair and stuck his head right in the spinning fan "blang" and it knocked him to the floor. Deb and myself laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes. When he got up off the floor he started laughing too (and rubbing his head). "Sheee-it" he said. I grinned at him and said "that's gonna leave a lump, I guess you'll need to wear a hat onstage tomorrow night". "Right" he said. I laugh every time I think of that.
Fascinating ZZtop back stories, Linden. Hope it's cathartic for you. Keep telling them if it strikes you because when it comes to who to believe it's hands down you according to the amount of detail no one could possibly make up. As a fellow Texan as is the members of ZZtop they should step up and resolve this financially with you lawyers or no lawyers.
You mentioning Eliminator was a Diamond album made me take another listen to the CD and the first I landed on was "Legs". I hadn't heard it in a while but the drum machine rhythm immediately reminded me of the late '70's Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer hit "I Feel Love" and was wondering if maybe is what Billy was attempting to gleam onto as a new sound even though RevC was what he claimed to borrow from.
BTW as a former fellow Houston citizen during the '80's & '90's how's highway 6 look now? Is it still the worlds largest flea market or did they write stricter zoning laws? I used to live in that area. Saw your photography on your Flickr account. That's truly some damn good eye candy.
Yes, hwy 6 is a cartoon. Thanks for your comments.
Speaking of Highway 6 I've always wanted to ask Frank Beard where he came up with the opening drum beat for Master Of Sparks the events of which took place on Houston's highway 6. Quite a few of Frank's drum riffs and back beats and driving rhythm are so memorable and unique as if created out of thin air.
La Grange, another unique rhythm inspired by John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillen but emphasizes 4 on the floor where as Billy applies a 16th note rest before the up beat which just makes it a completely different song.
I'm a big drum rhythm fan. War's Papa Dee Allen was just as mesmerizing in coming up with unique funk/afro cuban beats.
Were you able to pick Franks brain on how he came up with his drum beats?
Actually I wanted to comment on the Moroder similarity in "Legs" on another thread, good call. Billy was in Europe during the band's fabled break, so I'm sure he would've heard those electronic disco sounds. I've looked up Revolting Cocks and their first album wasn't released after Eliminator, but Ministry were already around. Sampling a drum sound, of course, doesn't mean that the music necessarily ends up sounding the same. Tears for Fears took their big drum sounds (on "Shout" and "Mothers Talk") off a Led Zeppelin record and their music sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin.
Isn't it odd but par for the course with Billy that he'ld find a way to add a disco synth beat with guitar centric R&B and make it work and sound nothing like either genre.
And I do like "Thug" thanks to Linden for writing it. It adds another layer of weird to compliment the precise and staccato synth drum disco beat that permeates the album.
I Feel Love by Donna Summer & Moroder on synth.
Sounds nothing like ZZtop but "Legs" uses similar beat style.
Since the object of Eliminator was to get played in dance clubs (and everywhere if possible). The synth and guitar was a simple hybrid thing. Billy's guitar fingers were willing and able to jam on anything, he can easily shred as well, but that's not what he's selling.
Im new to this type of thread, so Ill just try to tell stories and make comments and Ill try to realize that people are often just pondering and not asking a question. It is an interesting topic, I know. Its also complicated good and bad, fun and not. I have fun memories and not fun. The best part for awhile (Im a loner) was being part of Franks household with his beautiful wife Deb. She was nuts and fun. I wasn't used to being in a household and it was good.
I first met them when I was a DJ at KLOL rock radio Houston. Our station was super popular and the jocks were given the unusual freedom of playing whatever they liked on air. My air name was Jack Smack. Billy befriended me (smart move) and came by the hippie DJ house a few times and hung, then I began having him visit my radio show (7 to midnite). We'd play a cut or two of his just released first album. Then we'd talk about blues rock and play other stuff like Peter Green etc.. On my show I used to do a thing called "tuck in" (at 10pm). Id just say silly things or recite a funky poem then say "tuck". It caught on. One night Billy was on my show and we got to 10 pm and he helped me with the tuck in. We talked whacked cartoon talk then Billy said (in a howlin wolf voice) "Im gonna eat a pickle". He had a little bag of snacks and he pulled out a pickle and got real close to his mic and crunched and slurped and made blues sounds. We had fun. Billy got me into meditation for awhile too, took me to see speakers talk etc then I got a mantra. It was interesting. Their album began to catch on a little etc.. Then they got lost on the road for a decade and I didn't see them at all till late 70s when I got to know the other two. I felt like they were my friends. That went south after Eliminator. Eliminator was too big for them to share, it made em happy and crazy all at the same time. Kinda like a dog that growls when someone gets near his bone.
Ha. I get it. Billy is the dog that wont let go of his bone.
I know, we got one like that.
A fun memory (some people have heard this story, but here it is if you havent') '
A STORY ABOUT WORKING ON ZZ TOP'S "HIPPIE PAD"
A quick story: We had just hooked up the new Tascam multi-track recorder (16 tracks) in Frank's house (a semi-pro recorder). We were working on a song idea called "Hippie Pad". Frank was strolling in and out of the room as I worked on this with Billy. Then one of those times Frank walked in singing "I'm gonna buy me... a groovy little hippie pad". Billy sternly corrected Frank "it's not I'm gonna BUY ME ... it's I'm gonna FIND ME a groovy little hippie pad, hippies DON’T BUY hippie pads... they just FIND 'EM !!!" There was a pause in the room. Frank stared at Billy with a comical grin "jeez... ok" he said, glancing at me with a grin, then he wandered out of the room again. I laughed.
ZZ started as a trio and it wasn’t long until Billy wanted to be more than a trio, after all a trio is a narrow slice of instruments. There were two forces trying hard to restrict the music to simple trio: 1) The manager 2) the core fans.
Billy wanted more. There were lots of “potential fans” who wanted more as well, and Eliminator proved that because suddenly the fan base was huge, there were even girl fans for Eliminator. The people who complained about the band changing were a minimum of folks, a narrow base. Im not disregarding them, but if ZZ had stayed the same, so would their low number of record sales. Billy wanted to be BIG. The thrust of him and me talking was “how do we get more audience”. However, he always had worries about pissing off his base.
So many people ponder and seem in disbelief that suddenly (example: Legs) Billy was playing blues guitar on a disco background. That's exactly what happened with David Bowie and Stevie Ray Vaughn on the hit song "Lets Dance". Sounds like disc-o ish digital drums and cheese dance music then suddenly Stevie Ray Vaughn is playing Texas Blues Guitar on it (there's even synthesized bass on it) (Same guitarist with China Girl, Stevie playing lead at the end). It would have worked with Billy too. I dream of hearing hybrids of all kinds. It's fun and delicious. No confusion is here for me.
By the way, legend has it that when the music video of "Let's Dance" came out that Stevie Ray Vaughn was outraged when the video showed David Bowie playing lead. Calm down Stevie, it's only rock and roll.
David Bowie - Let's Dance (Official Video) - Bing video
I didn't talk much about drums or whatever with Frank. When he was home he wanted mental freedom from it all. It was a home setting, not the road. But Billy was obsessed, I can be that way sometimes too.
That makes a lot of sense, Frank needs a break sometimes from the music, but Billy was always playing. I assume Dusty was more like Frank in that respect.
It's an honor to have you here, Linden!
Thanks, glad to talk about it. Also remember, Frank was new to a drug program (PDAP) and he was working hard to get clean. I went to the meetings with him and sometimes I would lead a talk circle, but I was not problematic with drugs, I just had a beer in the evenings. I had used drugs in my late teens but I wasn't problematic. Frank had been living on the road through the seventies, you get lonely and isolated like that, drugs and booze are everywhere. Frank got clean.
Makes a lot of sense, it takes a changed mindset to get clean.
Linden, would you please tell me more about a story I read? I believe you were DJing a party and Frank was there too, and you decided to play a ZZ Top song and everyone left the dance floor. Maybe another ZZ Top song was also played to test the theory that no one dances to ZZ Top? Did that actually happen? Do you remember what song or songs you may have played? It certainly helps lead to what Eliminator became, ZZ Top that you could dance to!
FROM THE BOOK: “ZZ TOP – BAD AND WORLDWIDE” (ROLLING STONE PRESS, WRITTEN BY DEBORAH FROST): But with the release of their ninth album, Eliminator, in 1983, these hairy, unlikely rock heroes had become a pop phenomenon. This had something to do with the discoveries of a young preproduction engineer (Linden Hudson) whose contributions, like those of many associated with the band over the years, were never acknowledged.
Yes, that totally happened. But it was almost 40 years ago, I don't remember what songs. Frank shrugged, but the next day I relayed the incident to Billy in the home studio and he was dumfounded.
We really appreciate your insight into this brief period of ZZ history, @Linden Odell Hudson!
These are awesome stories! Thank you for sharing them. I hope no one gets too upset by them.
I'd love to read what you have to say about other groups that you've encountered. Funny is preferred, but I'm good with not funny!
Just thinking that if I went public/online with my experiences in 20+ years of working concerts with headlining artists, I would have to move to an island in the middle of the ocean, and would most likely never get work again.
I'd be interested in hearing any other comments you might have about Afterburner , wondering how familiar you got with it. Anything you genuinely like about it?
The only time I saw ZZ Top was in summer 1986 at the L.A. Forum. Gotta say, it was a real fun show, maybe their most technically complex? but wish I remembered details better. I was just 20 years old.
Afterburner (released Oct.1985) full album
1. Sleeping Bag
3. Woke Up With Wood
4. Rough Boy
5. Can't Stop Rockin' (Dusty vocal)
6. Planet Of Women
7. I Got The Message
8. Velcro Fly
9. Dipping Low In The Lap Of Luxury
10. Delirious (Dusty vocal)
"Rough Boy" in Detroit 1986.
I saw them not too long after.
Great read. thanks and welcome Linden!
ooohhh.....come on spill some stuff! i love hearing stories about musicians & bands, especially "dirt" cause it proves that they aren't what we all thought they were sometimes
and it's nice to know the truth behind the scenes.
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