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ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Reveals His Christmas Day Miracle

Christian Alminana, Getty Images
Christian Alminana, Getty Images

Billy Gibbons doesn’t have to think hard about his best Christmas presents of all time. In a 2011 interview, the ZZ Top guitarist remembered one that changed his life. It was in 1962, and the young (likely clean-shaven) Gibbons was just 13 years old.

“Sitting under the tree was a little Gibson Melody Maker and a nice little Fender Tween amplifier,” Gibbons told Men’s Journal. “And away we went.” That’s an understatement if their ever was one.

Gibbons talked more about his life and adventures than music in the interview. He recommends a cheap suit that fits over an expensive one that doesn’t; tells the story of what happened when he tried to open a bottle of Jack Daniel’s with a knife; and shares the best advice he ever received.

“My dad was quite the entertainer,” Gibbons said. “He was a classically trained pianist with his five brothers as the Gibbons Brothers Band. The thing he shared with me that still resonates: Play what you want to hear. And following that, the two golden rules: Play it in tune and play it in good time.”

Gibbons also tells the story of his flight with Penn Jillette in the astronaut weightlessness training plane in Los Angeles. “We have been gravity-ridden, earthbound creatures since time began,” he said. “So that first drop, when we floated off the floor, was hair-raising.”

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