La Grange – ZZ Top – 1973

Just a traditional blues boogie with some Billy Gibbons mumbling over the top but ZZ Top’s 1973 release La Grange is one of the great rock songs by one of the most underrated bands, and guitarists (Billy), around.

the song

Released in 1973, La Grange was the centre of some court action in 1992.  The initial guitar work on the is based on a traditional blues rhythm which was made famous by John Lee Hooker on a number of his songs including Boogie Chillen. 

Bernard Besman, the copyright holder of that song brought a plagiarism suit but lost. The judge ruled that the rhythm was so well-known and used that it was public domain.

the band

What can you say?  Those beards, those dance moves, that big sound from three men… great.  It always amuses me, however ,that the one guy who doesn’t have one of those amazing beards is named Frank Beard.

From Houston, Texas (where else), ZZ Top have been together for over 40 years now.  They have released 14 studio albums and sold over 25 million records.  They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

la grange fax

  • La Grange is from Tres Hombres, ZZ Top’s first album.
  • Released in 1973, La Grange peaked at #41 on the US singles chart.
  • La Grange is about a brothel on the outskirts of the city of La Grange in Texas. The same brothel is the one in the Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Bassist Dusty Hill said of the song;

Did you ever see the movie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? That’s what it’s about. I went there when I was 13. A lot of boys in Texas, when it’s time to be a guy, went there and had it done. Fathers took their sons there. You couldn’t cuss in there. You couldn’t drink. I had an air of respectability. Miss Edna wouldn’t stand for no bulls–t. That’s the woman that ran the place, and you know she didn’t look like Dolly Parton, either. I’ll tell you, she was a mean-looking woman. But oil field workers and senators would both be there. The place had been open for over a hundred years, and then this a–hole decides he’s going to do an exposé and close it. And he stirred up so much s–t that it had to close. La Grange is a little bitty town, and little towns in Texas are real conservative. But they fought against it. They didn’t want it closed, because it was like a landmark. It was on a little ranch outside of town, the Chicken Ranch. Anyway, we wrote this song and put it out, and it was out maybe three months before they closed it. It pissed me off. It was a whorehouse, but anything that lasts a hundred years, there’s got to be a reason.

  • La Grange is ranked at #74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of all Time.
  • La Grange lyrics

la grange – zz top – 1973 video
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2 Responses to La Grange – ZZ Top – 1973

  1. Miki says:

    Where DO you hear them – ?! The music’s good – lyrics interesting – the good ole US of A wonders why it’s continually in strife when it believes it’s acceptable to be dragging its13yr olds through this rite! Anyway, now look forward to Thursdays (but sometimes don’t get there on time!) to see what you’ve unearthed, thanks

  2. Greg.K. says:

    Hi Miki, Yes, Southern R ‘n’ R lyrics are often rather “interesting.”

    Where do I hear them – well, I go to the gym at about 6am each morning (you can tell :-)) and there is a guy there who often takes off the hip-hop tape and puts on one with 70s and 80s music. It’s GREAT.


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