3 Songs You Didn’t Know ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Wrote for Other Artists

“I’m pretty sure it’s evolved from the sources which can be, well, anything,” said Billy Gibbons of songwriting in 2018. “A turn of phrase, a potential title might spring to mind or a riff presents itself. It’s about keeping an open mind and, in essence, letting it happen. We’re never entirely sure of how this process actually works, but sho’ ’nuff, it does work.”

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Co-founding ZZ Top in 1969 in Houston, Texas, along with late bassist Dusty Hill (1949-2021), and drummer Frank “Rube” Beard, with Gibbons as the chief songwriter, the blues-rock trio co-wrote, recorded, and released their earlier releases—ZZ Top’s First Album in 1971 and Rio Grande Mud in 1972—before breakthrough Tres Hombres, in 1973 and their hit “La Grange” and “Tush.”

By the early to mid-’80s, ZZ Top incorporated new wave and pop sounds on the 1983 release, Eliminator, and their own twist of MTV stimuli with videos for hits “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “TV Dinners,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.”

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Throughout more than 40 years, ZZ Top released 15 albums together through La Futura in 2012. The album was the last to feature Hill, who died in 2021 at 72.

On his own, Gibbons embarked on his solo career later in life, releasing his debut Perfectamundo in 2015, followed by The Big Bad Blues in 2018 and Hardware in 2021, along with countless collaborations—everyone from B.B. King, Les Paul, Hank Williams III, to Ronnie Dunn, Queens of the Stone Age, and most recently playing guitar on Chapel Hart’s 2020 single “Jesus & Alcohol.”

In addition to his ZZ Top and his own catalog, Gibbons also wrote a few songs for other artists. Here’s a look at three songs he wrote outside of his core catalogs.

1. “One Step Back,” Louise Hoffsten (1991)
Written by Bill Gibbons and Jerry Lynn Williams

In 1991, Swedish artist Louise Hoffsten released her third solo album. On Message of Love, Gibbons co-wrote “One Step Back.”

2. “Powder Keg,” Rainer (1992)
Written by Billy Gibbons and Rainer Ptacek

Late German-American singer and songwriter Rainer Ptacek (1951-1997), known as Rainer, gained fans with Robert Plant and Billy Gibbons, who invited him to record at his Gold Star Sound Services Studio in Houston. Gibbons also co-wrote “Powder Keg” for Rainer’s 1992 album, Worried Spirits.

3. “Willin’ for Satisfaction,” Vivian Campbell (2005)
Written by Billy Gibbons

When Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell was working on his only solo album, Two Sides of If (2205) featured Gibbons on two tracks, including one he wrote, “Willin’ for Satisfaction.” Produced by Tor Hyams, Two Sides of If also features Joan Osborne.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT

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