Back in 2015, Billy Gibbons performed ZZ Top’s classic, “La Grange” with Slash, Richie Sambora, Steve Lukather, Duff McKagan & Matt Sorum for the AdoptThe Arts benefit to keep music in schools at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles.
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La Grange is from ZZ Top’s 1973 album Tres Hombres, and is one of their most successful songs, it was released as a single in 1973 and received extensive radio play, rising to No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974. The song refers to a brothel on the outskirts of La Grange, Texas (later called the “Chicken Ranch”). The brothel is also the subject of the Broadway play and film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the latter starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds.
In March 2005, Q magazine placed La Grange at 92nd of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The song is also ranked No. 74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. Rolling Stone called the song, “…a standard for guitarists to show off their chops.”
Billy Gibbons played the lead on a 1955 Fender Stratocaster with a stop tailpiece through a Marshall Super Lead 100 amp with Celestion greenback speakers. The song was produced by Bill Ham and mixed by Terry Manning.
The initial groove of the song is based on a traditional boogie blues rhythm used by John Lee Hooker in “Boogie Chillen'” and by Slim Harpo in “Shake Your Hips”. A failed lawsuit by the copyright holder of “Boogie Chillen'” resulted in the court ruling that the rhythm was in the public domain. The line “a-how-how-how-how” is quoted from John Lee Hooker’s song “Boom Boom”.
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