In 1968, ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons was in the blues-psychedelic band the Moving Sidewalks, and they opened a series of shows for Jimi Hendrix. They were initially inspired by local peyote rockers’ 13th Floor Elevators. And when they opened for Jimi, they even faced a problem completing their show as per their agreement.
Back in 2020, in an interview with Express, Billy commented, “We hit it off in a rather unexpected manner. Our contract required us to play for 45 minutes, and at that time, the only way we could complete the run was to include two numbers by Jimi Hendrix. Which was kinda chancy I must say.”
This was during Jimi Hendrix Experience’s tour in Texas, in 1968. The Moving Sidewalks didn’t have enough material of their own to cover their 40-minute slot which was a big problem for them.
The good news, the band got away with it. And even Jimi had things to say about it. He revealed, “I remember wrapping up the set, coming off the stage … there was Jimi in the shadows – off to the side with his arms folded. But he was grinning, and as I passed by he grabbed me and said, ‘I like you. You’ve got a lot of nerve.“
In a recent interview with LouderSound, Billy talked about it again and discusses his covers too. He remembered, “To try and wrap your head around those compositions, it was something so new you didn’t quite know where to begin. We were fortunate to be able to interpret our versions of ‘Foxy Lady’ and ‘Purple Haze’. They were Texas interpretations.”
The discussion also led the talk toward Billy’s first impression of Jimi Hendrix. He disclosed that it was his girlfriend who helped him land Jimi Hendrix’s record. He stated,
“I had a girlfriend from Texas who found herself on holiday in London, and she had the foresight to pick up a copy of the first Jimi Hendrix Experience record [Are You Experienced, ’67] and forward it to the States. I had my hands on it early on, certainly before its US release. And I remember standing at the turntable with eyes wide and jaw dropped. I was seventeen when that record landed in my lap and I was ready to just soak it up. There was hours spent just listening to the way he phrased his stuff.”
“It was operating on a number of levels. The technique stood out immediately, and it was bolstered by some tone that had not become commonplace. I can almost bet that the engineers who designed the Fender Stratocaster never knew that these sounds would emanate from their handy invention. In the hands of Jimi Hendrix, it was otherworldly.”
There is also a photograph that shows the band and Jimi together in a frame. It was at the Municipal Auditorium in Texan on February 15, 1968.
Seems like Billy’s favorite song by Jimi Hendrix is Foxy Lady and Purple Haze. He commented, “Foxy Lady and Purple Haze still reign supreme. The mind was twisted with the first album, then when he interpreted All Along The Watchtower it went from Dylan’s ownership to suddenly it became Hendrix’s song. Then there’s Red House. You can’t overlook Hendrix’s interpretation of the blues form. Quite recently they found a version of Hendrix playing an up-tempo version of Bobby Bland’s song Further On Up The Road. And it’s killer! Just wild.”
Watch Billy F Gibbons play one of his favorite songs ‘Foxy Lady’ by Hendrix down below.