Friday, June 05, 2020

Book review, BIlly F Gibbons, Rock + Roll Gearhead

I had no idea BFG was a sketch artist, but seriously, that's fucking cool.
This printing of this book has this killer box cover - few books come in cases/boxes, unless you're getting a boxed set, and this is fantastic to have covered with a self portrait. Serious, you know how much I love art, I post art - car art mostly, all the time. But I also have posted a hell of a lot of artists too, and had no idea BFG was one. So, shocking, fucking cool

this is an inset he seems to have free handed in a book he took time with to autograph for a VIP who later sold the book

that's some nice pinstriping!

Time it takes to read, about 5 hours, depending on how long you look at the guitars, and how fast you read. But, seriously, it's a perfect afternoon book.

Pages: About 222

Photos - a category that I have in most book reviews, as they simply are rare in most of the books I've reviewed, but, this book is every page, so, no point in counting

Problems? I still insist that the publisher should have me, or a qualified editor look at the book before going to press. I shit you not.

Everyone reading this book will be familiar with Holley carbs, lets just go with that understand as few people ever reading this will be living in the Arctic, the Amazon, or some other place without cars, knowledge of hot rods, and familiarity of Holleys.

So, how the hell did they misspell Holley? Spellcheck? Could anyone rely on Spellcheck to edit their text before going to press? No one I'd pay to be an editor.

The other three: Zero mention of the nudu hat that BFG wears all the time now, or that he got it when on tour in Africa, trading his Stetson to the leader of the Bamileke tribe for this beanie. Since it's been the most drastic change in the way BFG appears for the past 20 some years, vs the MTV 80s when he wore the Stetson, I think it not only deserves a mention, the explanation about it is crucial to her persona. When you are never seen without something as unusual as that hat, in contrast to your previous public appearance, it's worth a mention.

Page 122 says the 1958 Thunderbird, Mexican Blackbird, "has the high horse Tri Power V8" under the hood.
I'm guessing that you, too, know that the 352 was a 4 barrel. Since Hot Rod Magazine did an article on the car, and said "Just your basic 352" then I'm going to go along with that, and point out that this is a mistake. It doesn't have 3 carbs. Also, "Tri Power" was a Pontiac term, and fender badge. Ford didn't put 3 two barrel carbs on cars until the '60, and the T Bird didn't get it until 1961.

Or you can see the video where Adam Corolla interviews Pete, BFG, and lifts the hood and talks about it.

Page 156 shows a guitar that has zero mention, and since that page is mentioning the guitar above it, there's a problem, the bottom guitar is not the same as the photo caption for the top guitar, and it's the only guitar in the section of the book on guitars, that has no caption. I'm not the only one looking at this book closely because of the look into the collection of guitars. So, it matters.

After those issues, this book is a dream. Just terrific. If you didn't know that it's about 15 years old with a couple pages of new photos that weren't in the original 2005 book, you wouldn't care that it's not been updated to show the other cars, the Hollywood type events BFG has been busy with, (guest starring in a recurring role on the tv show Bones, or co-starring in his own Discovery channel show with Jimmy Shine, and that some of the guitars it shows were sold years ago.  It's not like books are required to be updated with each reprint, but, it would be nice. This did get about 20 or 30 more pages, and about 10 of them are the intro full page photos. Another 10 or so are the Whiskey Runner hot rod and the '51 Willys. Really cool

That is the coolest log art I've seen in a while. I've now looked at it a dozen times, I still laugh and love it. It's perfect

It's pretty thorough until about 1999 or 2000. Which is the last time I bought a ZZ Top cd, and went to the concert.

Book review summed up, fantastic. Fans of ZZ Top will dig it, hot rodders with a familiarity of ZZ Top, but who read this book for the cars, not so much. It doesn't dig into the cars as much as I've done on my blog,  for example and I was hoping for more. More about the cars, a look into his garage (that IS what the publisher promises, " throws wide Gibbons’ garage and studio doors " and I don't take a promise like that lightly. No photos inside the garage, no photos inside the studio. Not cool man.

Things I learned from reading this, BFG has played with nearly everyone, from the guys who were still playing into the late 60s like Hendrix and a hundred others, to being friends with Bo Diddley and other legends, of course it makes sense, but hell, I didn't know ZZ Top went on tour with Hendrix!

Paula Abdul was the choreographer for the ZZ Top videos

ZZ Top got some of their outfits from Nudie Cohn 's haberdashery

I hadn't heard about the cabin that Muddy Waters grew up in, at Stovall Farms, in Missisippi, that was severely damaged and one of its roof timbers built from cypress beams was made into a guitar that was commissioned as a fundraiser for the Delta Blues Museum

I had no idea of the variety of guitars he has, from steel guitars (National) of the 1930s, to custom ones that he toured with or used in videos. If you're a guitar fan, the other 2 parts, biography and cars, are just warm ups until you hit the guitar collection section.

I didn't know that BFG has a Gretsch guitar that Von Dutch pinstriped, and it might be the same one he learned of as a teen that a group in his hometown played, mentioned early in the book

There may be a better book out there on his guitars, or maybe a better one on his cars, but I'm going to say that you're best off getting this one, if you are into both guitars, and cars, and especially if you want to learn more about ZZ Top. if you want to read more about Bolin guitars

and you can get a good preview of 20 pages of the book on Google books, as they scanned the original printing, so, none of the new 30 pages

reminder that Netflix has the documentary on ZZ Top hitting the 50th year of playing music together, and, this book would make a cool fathers day present

You might want to have You tube ready to pull up the many songs that are referred to, as some will sound familiar and you might want to listen to them again to catch on to what they are, and some that are mentioned will likely inspire you to listen to them for enjoyment again.

By the way, something I read in an interview that wasn't even mentioned in this book, was how he was inspired to get into music, more specifically the blues. His dad was and exec in the music recording studio business, and:
 “I was about seven or eight years old. He took me with him one day in the car down to a recording studio where he told me to sit in the booth and something was going to go down. He then went off to an office or something, leaving me kicking my heels. After a short time, BB King and his band walked in, set up and began recording. I’ll never forget the moment. I guess it gave me a sort of head start in the music.”

PS, in a Rolling Stones recent interview was this Q and A

Everyone always talks about the negative aspects of the collapse of the recording industry. What are the positive aspects? It’s now up to the individual to invent the kind of business offer that he thinks will work. You no longer are you slave labor to someone else’s wishes. I think it’s a glorious awakening to know you have the opportunity to step up and control your destiny.

for a look at ZZ Top instead, watch the Netflix documentary ZZ Top: That Little ol Band From Texas
but though it's a good documentary, with really nice early concert footage, it is only covering the band until the MTV vids from Eliminator, and it's very fun to see those again. But that's it, nothing after that, no Afterburner, no Recycler, no XXX. Yes, I am a fan of this band's music and hot rods. But apparently, they have no interest in documenting the past 20 years at all.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the book review. It sounds great.

    BFG was on Paul Shaffer's show on AXS TV. I could only find this 2 minute clip of the show, and not the whole episode.

    He was also on Dan Rather's show on the same network-