Billy Gibbons: The Slow Blues Style of ZZ Top's Head Honcho
August 19, 2009
|From Rockin' the Blues
The slow blues in this example shines a light on Billy’s Lightnin’ Hopkins influence. Measures 1 and 2 get the country blues vibe happening with the classic blues “train whistle” found in Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago.” This lick is resolved in measures 3 and 4 with the open E string before being taken up a notch again in measures 5 and 6. In measures 7 and 8 the major 3rd defines the tonality, combined with the root in measure 7 and the root notes in measure 8. Measure 9 features a broken B7 voicing intensified with the repetition of the open B string. Measure 10 contains rich blues harmony, leading to a vibrant, improvised turnaround with an ascending and descending line in measures 11 and 12. The V chord is then implied by the classic walkup on beat 3 of measure 12.