The Last Word With Billy Gibbons

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Early on, B.B. King and I shared a dressing room. I was about 22, and he kind of leaned over and said, “Learn to play what you like to hear.” When I heard that statement, I just twisted off into a different direction. It’d be impossible to predict where we would have gone had we not stumbled across that simple piece of advice, but it sure helped me find a new avenue to traverse.

 

How should a man handle getting older?

You just dive in and take it one day at a time. At some point, you realize that every day you’re granted to wake up and move onward is a real bonus.

You’ve been playing with the same two guys in ZZ Top for more than three decades. How do you make that work?

The answer’s simple: separate buses.

If multiple buses is the secret to a successful rock band, what’s the secret to a happy marriage?

Start the day off with a sweet morning kiss, and the day is made. Also: purses and shoes.

What’s one thing every man should understand about women?

They rule the planet. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. They rule the planet.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life so far?

When I was 17, I was playing with the Moving Sidewalks, and by some miracle we were invited to join the Jimi Hendrix tour. He was doing things with his Fender Stratocaster that I’m fairly confident the designers never would have thought to do. Just watching his expertise and inventiveness…. It taught me to keep an open ear and an open mind.

What motivated you when you were a kid?

As a youngster, I heard Elvis Presley and B.B. King, and I said, “That is I want to do. It was just a thought, but it was a constant. I turned 13 on December the 16th, 1962, and nine days later, on Christmas Day, I found an electric guitar under the tree. It had my name on it. I never turned back.

How should a man deal with regret?

Acknowledge it and move on. That which is done cannot be undone.

How should a man handle criticism?

Criticism is uncomfortable but valuable. As the old saying goes, “If we agree on everything, one of us is not necessary.”

What advice would you choose to give to your younger self?

Don’t mind the mistakes. Shrug your shoulders, pick up sticks, and move on.

What role should vanity play in a man’s life?

Vanity is tagged as frivolous and unnecessary, but a certain measure of self-esteem is an honorable thing to aspire to. You know… good grooming, just maintaining a pleasant appearance.

It’s funny to hear you of all people discussing good grooming. Do you think every man should grow a beard at some point in his life?

Beards are kind of like the blues: They get reinvented every decade or so. Right now, I think we’re in good step.

What’s the most indulgent purchase you’ve ever made?

The design house of Gucci once commissioned 22 electric guitars. Last week, an instrument dealer in London called to say that number 001 was available. Not that I need another guitar, but I took the bait and will soon take delivery of a Gucci guitar.

How much did you pay?

We’re still negotiating.