Billy Gibbons has always accepted inspiration from anywhere it comes.
So when ZZ Top's Houston, Texas, studio was being renovated around the turn of the century, the band had to find another spot to get to work. They landed at a busy Houston studio, where a number of hip-hop and R&B artists were recording.
In an interview from mid-July (given prior to the passing of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill), Gibbons looked back on the first time the Little Ol' Band from Texas came "face to face with the hip-hop community." He says the environment was overflowing with ideas, and the two worlds — those of ZZ Top and Destiny's Child — collided in the studio lounge during breaks.
"Oh yeah, we had the ZZ Top studio, we were giving it a bit of a facelift, so we went down the street to work with John Moran's outfit called Digital Services," Gibbons recalled. "And I want to say that Beyoncé calls me her homeboy, and she's certainly our homegirl. They were tearing it up, and from that rather inauspicious beginning, a lot of great stuff has come out of there."
Beyond some new friendships, Gibbons came away from those sessions with a hip-hop-inspired drum groove he always hoped to make into a song. With help from ex-Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum, Gibbons wrote "Spanish Fly" for his latest solo album, Hardware.
"It's a grinding groove, but we still take a page out of any book we can," Gibbons said of the new song. "It's fascinating where the influences will show up, you never know."
"Spanish Fly" isn't the first time a hip-hop tune has worked its way onto one of Gibbons' songs. He noted that ZZ Top's 2012 single "I Gotsta Get Paid" was a reimagining of a 2001 song by Lil Keke, Fat Pat and DJ DMD called "25 Lighters."
"So there's been some real valuable exchanges along the way, it's been great," Gibbons said.