ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Says Jimi Hendrix Didn’t So Much Teach Him How To Play The Guitar

ZZ Top icon Billy Gibbons recently joined American Songwriter for an interview and admitted that Jimi Hendrix didn’t really teach him to play the guitar.

Before his tenure with ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons lent his guitar skills to a psychedelic blues-rock band named the Moving Sidewalks. Formed in 1966, the band rose to prominence with their hits and began to take the stage as the opening act for various other important names in the scene.

The Moving Sidewalks also opened for the Doors and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. During Hendrix’s first headlining American Tour, they opened for the iconic guitarist and played his songs titled ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Foxy Lady.’ In a previous interview, Gibbons had stated that Hendrix was watching them during that show with a smile.

After the performance, Jimi Hendrix approached Gibbons and revealed he liked his guitar playing style. This marked the beginning of a friendship between the two, and Gibbons started to inspect Hendrix’s techniques. In a recent interview with American Songwriter, he reflected on the times he spent with the guitar icon.

According to Gibbons, Jimi Hendrix taught him what a guitar was capable of rather than how to play the instrument. Besides, Gibbons also touched upon how he started songwriting and said one could not know where the inspiration would come from, which makes writing songs interesting.

Speaking to American Songwriter, Billy Gibbons said the following:

“Jimi Hendrix didn’t so much teach me how to play the guitar so much as teach me what the instrument was capable of.”

He then touched upon writing songs:

“As far as writing songs is concerned, I knew I had to write some of my own because if you want to hear a Ray Charles song, your best bet is to listen to Ray Charles. You never know where the inspiration will come from — sometimes, a turn of phrase springs to mind, and you build around that. Other times it’s a funky riff, and you use that as the foundation. It’s never the same, which always keeps it interesting.

According to Billy Gibbons, Jimi Hendrix also cited him as his favorite guitarist back then. The two were close friends, and apparently, Hendrix helped Gibbons broaden his perspective on the many things he could do with a guitar rather than teaching him how to play it.