Billy Gibbons Remembers ‘Lust’ for Otherworldly Amplifiers
Billy Gibbons recalled ZZ Top’s early lust for Marshall amplifiers – although, due to having only ever seen a photograph of part of one, they thought the brand name was “Mars.”
The journey to find a perfect match for his Les Paul guitar, named Pearly Gates, started with Eric Clapton and ended with Jeff Beck, he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“We were lusting after these things,” Gibbons said. “We’d seen a picture of them. … There was the telltale sound from Eric Clapton’s hand appearing with John Mayall on the Bluesbreakers’ Beano record. On the back was a photograph of Eric, cradling his Les Paul, and right behind him we could see a corner of what looked to be like, we thought it was a Mars amplifier.”
Gibbons recalled that they later found out it was Marshall. "And having made an acquaintanceship with Jeff Beck, who was also using those great amplifiers, he set us up and had some sent over from England," he said. "Pearly Gates and a Marshall was the combination we said, ‘We can’t be beat.’”
The ZZ Top guitarist acquired Pearly Gates in 1968, nine years after its manufacture. He’s previously told of paying $250 to a rancher who had decided to concentrate on wrangling cattle instead of playing guitar. He’d been joint owner of a car called Pearly Gates, which had just been sold, and he bought the Les Paul using his share of the proceeds, reusing the name. It’s appeared on every ZZ Top album to date.
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