ZZ Top's Frank Beard

ZZ Top's drummer, Frank Beard, was born on this day in 1949 in

Frankston, Texas. He began drumming in 1964 and formed ZZ Top, the

wildly popular blues-rock trio, in 1970.

The three men came together when ace guitarist Billy Gibbons, who had had

regional hits with his band Moving Sidewalks, teamed up with Beard and

bassist Dusty Hill, who were playing together in a band called the American

Blues. ZZ Top signed with London Records and released First Album in

1970. The album sold only in Texas, but the band made a notable dent in the

Billboard 200 albums chart with the similarly bluesy and slyly humorous

follow-up, Rio Grande Mud (1972). With this album, the band, which had

opened for such acts as Janis Joplin and Mott the Hoople, graduated to

warming up for the Rolling Stones.

ZZ Top hit the big time with 1973's Tres Hombres. It peaked at #8,

went gold and spawned the minor hit "La Grange," a song derived from John

Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen"; "La Grange" became one of Top's signature

tunes. In 1975, the band had a top-10 smash and its first U.K. chart entry with

the half-live, half-studio Fandango!. "Tush," a track from the album, was

a top-20 U.S. hit and became a fixture in the band's live shows. In 1976, ZZ Top

made their first appearances in Europe, Australia and Japan as part of

their Worldwide Texas Tour, which included 100 dates in the U.S.

After a few more albums on London, including a greatest-hits collection, ZZ Top

took a hiatus and then

resurfaced on Warner Bros. in 1979 with Deguello.

It took a few albums for the band to hit its stride on its new

label. The trio added synthesizers to its sound for 1983's

Eliminator, which was timed perfectly to capitalize on the

year-old MTV. Sporting their trademark long beards and golf hats, ZZ

Top made videos for three of the album's tracks that, while not very

politically correct, featured the randy band with an assortment of

beautiful ladies in amusing situations. The videos made hits of all the

songs ("Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Legs"), sent

the album into the multi-platinum zone (it eventually became one of the

best-selling albums of the decade), won the band a few MTV Music Video

Awards and made them superstars. ZZ Top's tour behind the album also was

a major success. Afterburner (1985), including the top-10 hit "Sleeping

Bag," repeated the same formula, and concert-industry trade magazine

Pollstar named ZZ Top the #1 concert draw of 1986.

Though the hit singles became less frequent, ZZ Top had another top-10 album

with 1990's Recycler. But the title said it all: The formula was starting to

wear thin. After a switch to RCA Records, the band enjoyed another platinum

record, 1994's Antenna, and released an album of blues treatments that

same year entitled One Foot In The Blues. ZZ Top's most recent album is

1996's Rhythmeen.