Rio Grande Mud by ZZ Top released on the London record label, value £75

IN THE year 1698, Peter the Great of Russia imposed a tax on beards; 274 years later in June 1972 ZZ Top made the Billboard top 100 with the controversial song Francine. Many people may be forgiven for mistakenly thinking it is a forgotten song by the Rolling Stones. It is reminiscent of Brown Sugar, though the similarity is purely coincidental.

Look at the album cover, Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard look like they are splashing about in the Jordan River after receiving blessings from the Holy Spirit; actually, this is the Rio Grande, the river that forms the border between Mexico and Texas that inspired the album title.

Formed in 1969 in Houston,Texas, and describing themselves as a southern boogie bar room band, they quickly acquired popularity leading to a recording contract in 1972. Between 1973-76, ZZ Top travelled extensively. One of their greatest strengths has been their consistently high presentation and performance levels on numerous record breaking tours throughout the USA. After non-stop travelling the band decided to take a long rest, resuming their career in 1979 by which time, both Gibbons and Hill had grown lengthy beards, (without the other knowing). Apparently, it rendered them both speechless with shock when they met. Now graced with mind-boggling photogenic beards, they became instantly recognisable presenting a really unique look. Many top bands have changed their image and musical style, but ZZ Top have remained successfully stubborn in both appearance and music and have become like vintage wine, simply refined.

The eighties led to their greatest success with the album Eliminator which sold ten million copies featuring the classic songs Gimme All Your Lovin, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs. This was followed by Afterburner another best selling album. Possibly acknowledged as the greatest trio in rock history, few bands have endeared themselves to the public by maintaining music that has hardly changed for well over 40 years. Acclaimed as one of rock's revered attractions, ZZ Top have retained their colourful image, dark glasses, Stetson hats, complete with a relaxed musical dexterity that appeals to the masses who flock to their concerts. They will remain in the record books as having the longest beards in musical history, although drummer Frank Beard remains clean shaven.