January 1971: ZZ Top Debut with ZZ TOP'S FIRST ALBUM
It was January 16, 1971, when Texas rock legends ZZ Top officially first hit the scene with the band's debut LP, appropriately titled ZZ Top's First Album.
"Well, we were sure hoping that there would be a second album," guitarist Billy Gibbons remembered during an interview in 2013. "The art director who had stepped into ZZ Top's world was a gentleman named Bill Narum, an extremely talented guy who had a handiness with the paintbrush and an awareness of the big picture, especially when it came to the importance of music in people's lives. Mr. Narum saw the importance of titling ZZ Top's first album, and he said, 'Make it known that you've provided the world with an offering of what you guys do, and it's just the first one.' And we said, 'Sure. That sounds fine with us.' And so it became ZZ Top's First Album."
Packed with down and dirty electric blues and blistering guitar riffs, ZZ Top's First Album was the result of workshopping the band's repertoire in a baptism of onstage fire.
"We had been together for about six months and were knocking around the bar scene, playing all the usual funky joints," Gibbons recalled. "We took the studio on as an extension of the stage show. The basics were all of us playing together in one room, but we didn't want to turn our backs on contemporary recording techniques. To give our sound as much presence and support as possible, we became a little more than a three piece with the advantages of overdubbing. It was the natural kind of support -- some rhythm guitar parts, a little bit of texture. That was about it."
While ZZ Top's First Album didn't make much of an impact on the charts (the LP failed to crack the Billboard 200), it kick-started the legend in rock 'n' blues circles around the world about "a little ol' band from Texas" that was hitting the road, kicking ass and taking names. ZZ Top had arrived.