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Why the beardless member of ZZ Top is called Frank Beard

Frank Beard
Images from CBS and ZZ Top's website


Why the beardless member of ZZ Top is called Frank Beard

One of the most famous power trios in Rock and Roll, ZZ Top was formed in the last days of 1969 in Houston, Texas by Billy Gibbons (Guitar and vocals), Dusty Hill (Bass and vocals) and Frank Beard (Drums).


The group released many acclaimed albums in the 70s but really gained a huge exposure with their 1983 album “Eliminator”. That record had tracks like “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”. The music videos made for those songs were played constantly on MTV and really became part of pop culture, helping to define their image since at the time Dusty and Gibbons already had long beards.

As they said over the decades it really happened by surprise since the band decided to take a break and when they got together again both of them had long beards and they never told each other they would do that.

But of course, one of the most funny things about the group is that the only beardless member is called Frank Beard, who is often wearing only a mustache.

Why the beardless member of ZZ Top is called Frank Beard

As much as it might look like an internal joke from the band the answer is simple: that’s his real birth name. Born in Frankston, Texas in 1949 he was registered as Frank Lee Beard. The surname “Beard” came from his father John Woodrow Beard who was born in 1920. He passed away in 1988 when his son was already on the road with ZZ Top for almost two decades. His sister Sylvia also has the surname Beard.

The ZZ Top drummer curiously didn’t use his real name in the first albums. He was credited by his nickname “Rube”, appearing as “Rube Beard”. But even if Frank decided he wanted to look similar to his bandmates, that probably couldn’t be a great idea. One of the reasons is because it could be much more difficult to play the drums with a long beard.

Why Frank Beard decided not to grow a huge beard like his bandmates

In the documentary “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas” released in 2019 they were obviously questioned about the beards. Frank finally explained why he didn’t decide to grow a huge beard like his bandmates.

Gibbons always said that it all started because he and Hill got lazy during their break in the late 70s. Then it worked also as a disguise so that they could go out without people recognizing them. Dusty Hill even decided to work in an airport although he didn’t need any money, for example. After two years they got together again and as Frank recalled in an interview for the documentary, he had a small one.

(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) “I had a beard, but it wasn’t (even) near the beard they had. So I shaved it pretty right after we got back together when I saw they (had much more beard than I had).”

The guitarist Billy Gibbons also joked about Frank not having one. He said: “Frank didn’t mind being beardless. After all he had the name and he could go in the shopping mall without being interrupted.”

In the same interview the late Dusty Hill recalled that at the time Frank told him and Gibbons he couldn’t go out shopping with them, for example. The reason why because he would get recognized and interrupted by fans. Because after the beards became a trademark everyone would instantly recognize them.

They declined Gillette’s offer to shave

The beards became their trademark and both artists never shaved again. Companies like Gillette offered them 1 million dollars to completely shave in 1985. That amount nowadays according to Inflation Tool would be much bigger. The website analysis says that the inflation rate in the United States between 1985 and 2023 has been 185.87%. That number translates into a total increase of $1,858,689.56. So 1,000,000 dollars in 1985 are equivalent to 2,858,689.56 dollars in 2023.

ZZ Top had the same line-up for more than five decades, something really uncommon in the music business. There was only a change in the line-up because the bassist and singer Dusty Hill passed away in 2021 at the age of 72. He was replaced by Hill’s guitar tech Elwood Francis, who coincidentally grew a beard not much before Hill passed away.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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