When Billy Gibbons Felt ‘Desperate’ Due To B.B. King

Billy Gibbons was remarkably influenced by B.B. King, even when he formed ZZ Top. Before naming the band, Gibbons noticed in the concert posters that many performers’ names used initials. Especially B.B. King and Z.Z. Hill engaged his attention, and he thought of combining them into ZZ King. Later, he changed the name to ‘ZZ Top’ to avoid similarity.

In the forty-first album of B.B. King, titled ‘B.B. King & Friends: 80,’ Gibbons contributed to the musician. Released in 2005, the album celebrates King’s 80th birthday and features Gibbons on the song ‘Tired Of Your Jive.’ According to the guitarist, King also taught him two essential guitar techniques he was desperate to learn.

Which Techniques Did B.B. King Teach Billy Gibbons?

In a 2015 article by Rolling Stone, Billy Gibbons named B.B. King among the most extraordinary guitarists he knew. Gibbons then talked about King’s meaning to him, his musicianship, and guitar playing. The guitarist stated that King’s solos are sophisticated, clear, and identifiable, so he was a genuine soloist.

Moreover, Gibbons revealed two techniques he learned from B.B. King. According to Gibbons, King originated one cut-to-the-bone phrase, during which he hits two notes, jumps to another string, and slides up to a note. Apart from that, King also had a two or three-note technique, where he bent the last note while playing the guitar.

Here is what Billy Gibbons said about B.B. King:

“He plays in shortened bursts, with a richness and robust delivery. And there is a technical dexterity, a cleanly delivered phrasing. This was sophisticated soloing. It’s so identifiable, so clear; it could be written out. John Lee Hooker – his stuff was too difficult to write out. But B.B. was a genuine soloist.

There are two things he does that I was desperate to learn. He originated this one cut-to-the-bone phrase where he hits two notes, then jumps to another string and slides up to a note. I can do it in my sleep now. And there’s this two or three-note thing, where he bends the last note. Both figures never fail to get you moving in or out of your seat. It’s that powerful.

Billy Gibbons described these techniques as too powerful to get the listener moving in their seat. However, Gibbons also argued that he had mastered these techniques and could even do them in his sleep now.