Saturday, March 30, 1974

ZZ Top “La Grange” charted

La Grange

ZZ Top

Writer(s): Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 30, 1974

Peak: 41 US, 24 CB, 33 HR, 24 RR, 1 CL, 34 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 264.42 video, 396.46 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

ZZ Top was formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The blues-style rock band consisted of singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, singer/bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. “The trio had the attention of their peers right from the start;” UCR Jimi Hendrix referred to Gibbons as “America’s best young guitarist.” UCR They were also “developing a reputation as a powerful live band.” UCR

However, they did not find commercial success right away. Their 1971 debut failed to chart and the follow-up, 1972’s Rio Grande Mud, stalled at #104 on the Billboard album chart. Their fortunes changed with 1973’s Tres Hombres, which reached #8 and went gold, largely because of the success of the group’s “La Grange.” The song just missed the top-40 on the Billboard Hot 100, but became an album-rock staple and the group’s “ubiquitous musical calling card.” UCR

The song is “a loving lyrical tribute to Texas’s favorite little whorehouse,” UCR a brothel later known as the Chicken Ranch and celebrated in the Broadway play and film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. WK “It’s a testament to both the song’s immediate appeal and enduring quality that despite all this airplay and multi-media placement, it’s still a thrill every time Gibbons launches into his deep growl for that famous intro: ‘Rumour spreadin’ a-’round in that Texas town / ‘Bout that shack outside La Grange ...’” UCR In a bit of irony, the intent to immortalize Miss Edna’s boarding house got it shut down. DT

The song’s groove is based on John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen.” WK “That fuzz sound in the lead and in the front and back end of the composition is just pure tube distortion.’” UCR Cash Box called the song “a hard driving delight certain to satisfy those fans of heavy blues.” WK


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First posted 8/3/2022; last updated 4/1/2023.

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