Watch ZZ Top’s Elwood Francis Play 17-String Bass for “Got Me Under Pressure”

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Okay, what? A 17-string bass? Who knew such a thing even existed?

ZZ Top’s Elwood Francis—that’s who.

The ZZ Top bass player broke one out at the band’s show in Huntsville, Alabama earlier this week on November 5. The musician played the odd-looking instrument when the famed rock band played their 1983 song “Got Me Under Pressure.”

Speaking with Ultimate Classic Rock, Francis said that the giant instrument was an impulse purchase on a late night that he’d forgotten about. But that’s when the band’s frontman Billy Gibbons stepped in. He brought it to the show in Alabama.

Said Francis, “I was doing night internet searching [and] turned up a picture of this crazy 17-string bass. I sent a picture to Billy and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it.”

Francis added that Gibbons showed up with the instrument “a few weeks later” after Francis “had forgotten about it.”

Fans can see Francis play the monstrous instrument below. While he does well with the instrument, it doesn’t seem like the bass player needs all 17 strings. Nevertheless, like the band’s signature big beards and sunglasses, maybe big basses are its new signature visual.

Francis, who joined ZZ Top last year after the death of former bass man Dusty Hill, was the group’s longtime guitar tech. His fit was immediate.

American Songwriter caught up with Gibbons earlier this year to talk with the rocker about his band’s new live album, RAW, which was recorded when Hill was still living.

Speaking about the loss of Hill, Gibbons told American Songwriter, “There’s never been a more loyal, more dedicated guy I’ve ever met. I spent five decades with him and during that time, he was good-natured about whatever we had to face—both the good and the bad. He was the kind of guy you could literally count on, and [he was] a brilliant musician in his own right. He’s certainly missed but we do carry on in his righteous memory, so he’s never really gone.” 

ZZ Top is currently on tour, for tickets visit Ticketmaster.

Photo: Screenshot via YouTube

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