By Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
The Texas rock trio ZZ Top will perform in concert Saturday at Ford Pavilion in Beaumont for the second time in three years.
The band holds the record for the largest attendance total for a paid concert in the Golden Triangle; more than 14,000 people turned out for the band’s 2004 performance.
However, it wasn’t always glitz, glamour and glory for this “Little ol’ band from Texas.” The trio had to start out just like any other band does, performing shows on the local and regional tour circuit.
This included a performance in 1971 at the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School prom, which was the first prom of the newly combined school district.
“I was a sophomore that year they played at our school,” said Nancy (Dunn) Melancon. “I just remember not being very impressed with their music back then. We left before they finished playing.”
Melancon said the ZZ Top performance at the Jack Tar House was her first actual live concert experience and remembers the music being very loud.
“It was several years later, after the band had become pretty popular, when I realized it was the same group which had played our prom,” she said laughing. “We just couldn’t believe it was really them and how popular they had become.”
Kent Crow was a graduate from the first class of seniors at LC-M High School.
“We signed a contract with them to play our prom early in the school year, something like October, because that is how you had to do it back then,” Crow said. “They had just released their first album, and they had a song on the radio. Anyway, the band tried to get out of the contract because they were making more money at that time than what was agreed to on the contract, but we held them to the contract and they played the show.”
Crow said it was funny how many people were trying to attend the prom that night in 1971.
“People were actually crashing our prom,” he said. “People were trying to sneak in anyway they could just to see these guys perform. It was really funny.”
In 1985, Crow had another special moment with ZZ Top. He was a photographer and happened to be at the concert the band performed in Lake Charles, La.
Crow made a point to bring his 1971 year book with him in hopes of meeting the band and getting them to sign the annual.
“I was friends with the head of security at that show and he said he would see what he could do for me,” Crow said. “I ended up showing the picture to the band’s security guy and he couldn’t believe it, so he took me straight back to the band.”
Once backstage, Crow was able to show the band members the annual with the photo had them autograph the book and even managed to take another picture with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons while he was looking at the photo in the year book.
“I made a really large picture out of that for myself,” Crow said. “It was just something you’ll always remember.”
Tickets for Saturday’s concert are still available at all Ticketmaster outlets, including the Ford Park box office, and online for $75, $55 and $35.
Los Lonely Boys and Cross Canadian Ragweed will perform with ZZ Top at the show.
“Monday night in Wichita Falls was our first time to ever play with ZZ Top,” Jojo Garza, bassist for Los Lonely Boys, said in a telephone interview. “They are one of the bands we have always dreamed of sharing the stage with. They have been around a long time, and they still got it. They put on a dynamite show.”
Cody Canada, singer and guitarist for Cross Canadian Ragweed, said he and his band have performed with ZZ Top numerous times, including a 25-date tour a few years ago.
“We did an entire summer with them about three years ago,” Canada said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know how cool it was for them, but it was really cool for us.”
Canada said the first time his group ever performed with ZZ Top was at the last concert before the closing of the Astrodome.
“My first memory of those guys is backstage at the Astrodome,” Canada said. “Me and the rest of the guys in the band were sitting there talking when we heard a “clinking” sound coming down the hall. I stuck my head out of the dressing room and it was the ZZ Top guys walking down the hall in full stage outfit. The clinking sound I had heard was their conchos they were wearing.”
Canada said his older sister attended the concert in Wichita Falls on Monday and called him afterwards to let him know about the show.
“She saw those guys in the late ‘70s in concert, and hasn’t seen them since then,” he said. They are one of her favorite bands of all time. She said she nearly cried when they walked on stage. They are really great guys and still awesome at what they do.”
Reach this reporter at 409-883-3571, ext. 2619 or email@example.com
By Tommy Mann Jr.
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