ZZ Top is one of those bands that everyone knows about, but not everyone actively listens to. It’s also one of those bands that kept the core members for most of the time that they’ve been together, with Frank Beard being the master behind the drum kit.
The band made a huge impact on the music industry in the 70s, with Frank Beard’s drumming being a major driving force behind all their released albums. While he hasn’t played with other artists since ZZ Top started, he’s been an influential figure in rock music.
We’re going to give a brief breakdown of all his accomplishments as a drummer, along with an explanation of his iconic drumming style.
- 1 Notable For
- 2 History
- 3 Notable Artists That Drummer Frank Beard Has Played With
- 4 Drumming Style
- 5 Gear
- 6 Notable Performances
- 7 Final Thoughts on Frank Beard
- Drumming for ZZ Top
- Being the only member of ZZ Top without a long beard, even though his surname is Beard
- Using a large double bass drum setup when playing with ZZ Top
- Having an excellent shuffle feel
Frank Beard grew up in Frankston, Texas, and rock music started to make its impact on the world in his teenage years in the 60s. It’s unclear on when he started playing drums, but he’s stated that he played in a few bands before he joined ZZ Top.
However, it was the formation of ZZ Top that put his name on the map, as the band had breakout success in the 70s with their release of the Tres Hombres album.
He never played a major role in any band other than ZZ Top for most of his drumming career. The band is still touring, but without Dusty Hill, as he died in 2021.
Notable Artists That Drummer Frank Beard Has Played With
Frank Beard is often considered one of the founding members of the band, but that position actually goes to Dan Mitchell when he was playing in a band with Billy Gibbons. They changed the name of the band to ZZ Top, and Frank Beard joined shortly after.
Frank Beard recorded drums for every ZZ Top album that has been released, which is largely why he’s considered a founding member.
The big irony of the group is that the two guitar players, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, always had long and impressive beards. Frank Beard was the only member of the trio to have a clean-shaven chin, which opposes his surname.
The Zombies are a major rock band that gained popularity around the same time as ZZ Top. However, the official band wasn’t the one that Frank Beard played in.
Before the formation of ZZ Top, he and Dusty Hill toured the UK in a fake Zombies group that played the same music after the official band had broken up. It’s a fun story in ZZ Top’s history.
American Blues is another band that both Frank Beard and Dusty Hill played in before the formation of ZZ Top.They gigged regularly around the Texas area, and the two ZZ Top members left before forming the new band.
The interesting thing about this group is that it included Dusty Hill’s brother, Rocky, who never played with his brother in the popular band.
Moving Sidewalks was the name of ZZ Top before it changed. This was the group with Dusty Hill and Dan Mitchell, and the name changed when the other two members got drafted into the army at the time.
Frank Beard joined the group when Dan Mitchell left, and the rest is history. The band only released one EP, along with a few singles, before becoming ZZ Top.
Frank Beard’s drumming style is typical of the drummers that played in rock and country bands throughout the 50s and 60s.
One of the most impressive aspects of his playing is his ability to keep a strong shuffle going at a high tempo. Shuffles are one of the most challenging types of drum grooves to play, and it always looks effortless when Frank Beard plays one.
Other than that, a lot of drummers may not find his drumming abilities too impressive. However, every ZZ Top song has solid drum parts, with La Grange being the best one to listen to for hearing Frank Beard’s incredible contribution.
Frank Beard uses Tama drums and Paiste cymbals. In his cymbal setup, he uses a combination of models from the 2002 and Signature Series.
He often uses a Tama Starclassic Maple drum set, which is one of the most popular kits for big rock drummers to use. However, he’s been seen using other lines from Tama as well. He’s also one of those classic rock drummers that play with two bass drums and high cymbals.
La Grange Live in 2013
La Grange is the most popular song that ZZ Top has ever put out, and the drumming in the track is superb. Frank Beard plays a strong shuffle all the way through, and the beat he plays here is often referred to as the “Frank Beard-style shuffle.”
Chevrolet Live in 1976
There aren’t many freely available videos of ZZ Top performing in the 70s, so clips like this are a gem to ZZ Top fans. The 70s was the time when the band gained massive popularity, so it’s great to watch Frank Beard and the crew playing at the height of their fame.
Sharp Dressed Man Live in 2013
Here’s a clip of Frank Beard playing straightforward rock beats with the band. These are mostly what he plays with ZZ Top, but he always plays with clarity and intention.
Final Thoughts on Frank Beard
Frank Beard is a huge inspiration to drummers who love classic heavy rock music. ZZ Top has only ever had the three band members performing on stage, and Frank Beard has always provided the goods from behind the kit.
If you want to hear more of Frank Beard playing drums, the best thing to do is listen to all the albums that the band has released. There are 15 of them.