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The Full Text of ZZ Top’s Freddie King Hall of Fame Induction Speech

ZZ Top / Wanda King
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top inducted blues great Freddie King into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past Saturday (April 14), and we’ve got the full transcription of their speech.

In their always stylish and unique manner, the bearded frontmen — and blues heroes in their own right — took turns giving the speech, trading off lines as easily as they do on-stage while recalling how much they learned in the company of their hero and friend. Hill, who was briefly a member of King’s band, took the lead by explaining just how important Freddie was to his personal musical growth before giving the award to King’s daughter Wanda.

(Dusty Hill) “I’ve had the great privilege to play with three extraordinary guitar players in my life. My brother Rocky, this guy over here (gestures to Billy Gibbons) , and Freddie King for a short time. Freddie was from Dallas, Texas, so was I, that’s where we met, and he saw something in me, and let me play in his band. He put me up on stage and said ‘sink or swim,’ and so I did. Playing with Freddie for about a month was like a year of experience playing with anybody else.

(Billy Gibbons) Yeah, Freddie taught us what it was like to play as a group, Freddie could just give you that look, and you knew exactly where to take the music. He had a powerful, unique style of both singing and playing that earned him the nickname ‘Texas Cannonball.’

(Hill) The last time I performed with Freddie was in the late ’60s, we were a couple of weeks out on the road, we played a place called the Family Dog in Denver, and then the Filmore in San Francisco. The band knew two songs, then we’d go, “Are you ready for Freddie?” So we did our first song and then we were into our next song, and there’s no Freddie. So I’m looking around, and now getting nervous, and there’s no Freddie. And I look at the side of the stage, and there’s Freddie in a pink jumpsuit, and smiling, and I was never so happy to say, ‘Are you ready for Freddie?’

(Gibbons) I know I was, I’m always ready for Freddie. Years later, ZZ Top enjoyed playing many, many shows together with Freddie… (trails off)

… (Hill) in 1976 my brother Rocky wrote a song called ‘Bad Year for the Blues.’ That was the year that Freddie passed away. I played with Freddie for a short time, and he definitely went away too soon. I will always be grateful for Freddie’s friendship and for the experience I had with him.

(Gibbons) The years listening to the great playing and the singing, well… ’nuff said!

(Hill) Yeah, 2012 is a great year for the blues! We have the honor of inducting Freddie King to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…” (crowd noise drowns out final phrase)

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