26 Jan 1997: ZZ Top arrives at the half-time show for Super Bowl XXXI between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Packers won the game, 35-21. (Photo: Getty Images)

Long before hipsters started sporting long beards, ZZ Top made extreme facial hair cool. “The Little Ol’ Band from Texas” has been playing kick-ass, all-American rock & roll reliably since 1969. For most of that time, the lineup consisted of singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist/singer Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard, who, ironically, was the only band member without a beard. Hill passed away in 2021 but ZZ Top still tours with Elwood Francis filling the void.

The Houston-based rockers released their debut studio album, appropriately titled ZZ Top’s First Album, in 1971. They gradually built a loyal following through the 1970s. With the dawn of the 1980s, the band began incorporating synthesizers and drum machines into their songs. They realized peak chart success in the mid-’80s with their albums Eliminator and Afterburner.

ZZ Top And That Car

Eliminator is more than just an album title. As the story goes, ZZ Top’s manager suggested putting Billy Gibbons’s newly customized 1933 Ford coupe on the cover. The souped-up car was built between 1976 and 1983. It was henceforth known as the “Eliminator.” The hot rod quickly became recognizable for its red finish and graphics, and can be seen in several of the band’s music videos, including the three below. Gibbons keeps the vehicle on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but reportedly still takes it out for a spin whenever he is in the area.

In the edition of the Throwback Threesome, we’re hitting the throttle on some classic videos from ZZ Top’s 1983 Eliminator album. There’s definitely a recurring theme running through all three of them.

  • Gimme All Your Lovin' (1983)

    Released as the Eliminator album’s first single in 1983, “Gimme All Your Lovin'” sold over 10 million copies. It was ZZ Top’s first music video, as well as the first to have a sequel. The video follows a young male gas station attendant who is taken for a ride by a trio of women driving ZZ Top’s vintage Eliminator car. According to Songfacts, Billy Gibbons spent about $250,000 buying and restoring the now-iconic 1933 Ford coupe, which put him deep in debt on the vehicle. By putting the car in the video, he was able to write it off as a business expense. Smart.

  • Sharp Dressed Man (1983)

    The video for “Sharp Dressed Man” picks up where “Gimme All Your Lovin’” left off. It’s basically a reverse Cinderella story featuring a man stuck in a menial job getting a leg up in the world with the help of the band and some mysterious women who show up in the Eliminator. The man gets some new clothes, a major dose of confidence and, eventually, the girl. According to Songfacts, “Sharp Dressed Man” boosted ZZ Top’s fan base significantly thanks to MTV showing the video in heavy rotation. Here’s a little bar trivia for you: one of the women in the video, Jeana Tomasino, would later become Jeana Keogh and star in The Real Housewives of Orange County.

  • Legs (1984)

    The fourth and final single from Eliminator, “Legs” was ZZ Top’s biggest hit overall. The music video follows a meek young female shoe store clerk who is bullied relentlessly by nearly everyone around her. The three women from the previous Eliminator videos drive up in the hot rod to give the clerk confidence and take some revenge on the obnoxious townsfolk. It also marked the debut of ZZ Top’s trademark spinning guitars. The video won the 1984 MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video. According to Songfacts, ZZ Top cut a multi-million dollar deal in 1988 for the song to be used in a series of L’Eggs pantyhose commercials. Makes sense.

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