ZZ Top: How the Band Members Were Involved In A Huge Scam

ZZ Top - Dusty Hill, Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons

How Dusty Hill and Frank Beard Pretended To Be Another Band

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the band The Zombies and 2 members of ZZ Top. Prior to the formation of ZZ Top the bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard would pretend tobe members of the then defunct British group The Zombies. Check it out below!

What’s going on my fellow rock n’ rollers.
Don’t forget to hit the bell notification

icon to be notified every time i put out a
new video on my channel. Back in 1969 the

record label for the band ‘The Zombies’
released the last hit song of the group’s

career titled “Time of the Season”. Unfortunately
the band couldn’t capitalize on its success

and go out on tour because the band broke
up two years prior. This created a vacuum

in which others took advantage of the situation.
A promotion company would hire four musicians

who pretended to be The Zombies and toured
around the Untied States. The only problem

was they weren’t the real Zombies and in
fact the promotion company at one point had

several fake versions of the band touring
around the US. What’s even stranger is that

two future members of the legendary rock band
ZZ Top were involved in one of the fake lineups.

How did this happen? Stay tuned to find out
the shocking story.

The Zombies were an english rock band who
enjoyed success in the 60’s with a string

of hits songs including Tell Her No & She’s
Not There. By 1967 the band had disbanded

following a less than stellar commercial performance
of their album The Odyssey and The Miracle.

Even though the band broke up in 1967, by
1969 they had another hit with Time of the

Season, which was a slow burner eventually
reached the number 3 spot on the billboard

charts. While the single was successful and
demand was growing for the group, the former

members of the Zombies weren’t even aware
of their new found fame across the pond in

the US. The band members were now focused
on other musical projects.

It would be the idea of a shady promoter named
Delta Promotions to assemble two fake lineups

of The Zombies to tour the US to cash in on
the band’s popularity. It would be ironic

that at one point Delta Promotions used to
be a reputable company representing Question

Mark and the Mysterians who actually opened
a show for the fake Zombies., And in more

recent years Delta realized they could make
more money doing illegal activities including

managing fake bands than they could managing
real bands. At one point they also managed

a fake version of the Animals who toured across
the states. On top of that some members of

the company were arrested by the police for
allegedly selling drugs out of their office.

Delta Promotions had two fake lineups of the
Zombies tourin the US. One was based out of

Michigan while the other and best known lineup
was based out of Texas and was made up of

future ZZ top s members bassist Dusty Hill
and drummer Frank Beard. This is an actual

press photo of the lineup. Of course they
used aliases on promotional materials using

the names D Cruz and Chris Page. The future
rhythm section of ZZ Top would be joined by

Two dallas musicians named Mark Ramsey and
Sebastian Meador who rounded out the group.

Keep in mind this was the late 60’s before
the days of the internet. Many people back

then had no idea what the Zombies looked like
or how many people were in the band. The only

people who would’ve been able to pick apart
the inconsistencies were die hard fans. Some

of the inconsitencies included that the fake
Texas zombies band members wore cowboy hats

and only had 4 members while the real Zombies
lineup were british, had 5 members, including

a keyboardist. Anyone who asked about the
keyboard player would be told by member dusty

hill, that he was locked up in jail in Texas.

It was a buzzfeed article from 2016 that dove
deep into how this whole arrangement happened.

Some of the members of the texas based band
weren’t even aware themselves of who the

zombies exactly were. The article would interview
member Mark Ramsay who recalled

“I was told the Zombies didn’t exist — that
they were only a studio sound,” “I was just

excited and flattered. I’d only been playing
for a few years and the other guys were pro-level

at that point. I didn’t look at it as anything
more than a chance to have some fun, hang

out with some cool guys, learn some songs,
go somewhere outside of this Hillbillyville,

and earn a little money.”

The 50’s and 60’s era of American Rock
N’ Roll was a lot different than now. Back

then musicians were seen as disposable. During
the doo-wop era if one member of a group became

outspoken against either their label or management
they would soon be replaced with a more agreeable

member. In this pre-internet era fans were
none the wiser and given the Zombies inactivity

they were ripe for exploiting.

If anybody questioned the management company
they would use the standard dodge that one

original member was in the lineup even though
that wasn’t true. The company would also

claim they had legally acquired the rights
to the Zombies catalog of songs which also

wasn’t true.

The story took another strange turn when prior
to touring as the fake zombies Delta Promotions

sent the Texas quartet out on tour pretending
to be another disbanded group called Rose

Garden. They were a california based folk
band who had one hit song in 1967 with ‘Next

Plane to London.’ The band only learnt their
one hit song and the rest of the set was made

up of blues songs. The tour went off without
a hitch, despite the fact that the real lineup

of Rose Garden had a female lead singer, but
no audiences really pressed the band about

the inconsistencies. Following the successful
tour the quartet met once again with Delta

Promotions who had a bigger undertaking and
that was for them to tour as the Zombies.

They were told that they would need to attend
a photo shoot to be used for promotional material,

but were told to wear their own clothes, hence
the cowboy hats.

Ramsay and Meador used their real names on
the promotional material, but the future members

of ZZ Top Didn’t. Ramsay would tell buzzfeed
that he suspects that Dusty and Frank knew

hat something was up.

So what did the members of ZZ Top have to
say about this buzzfeed story. Well the declined

to be interviewed by buzzfeed but Dusty Hill
did respond through the band’s publicist

with the statement reading : “It was the ’60s,
man.”

Now keep in mind the imposter bands weren’t
playing huge venues, these were small clubs

or bars. They were making around $200 a night
and promoters didn’t seem to question the

legitimacy of the lineups or even care . The
Texas version of the Zombies began the tour

playing shows in the midwest and then moved
up to Canada and during one of their stop

overs they even played a prison.

So how did the gigs go you’re probably wondering?
Well following a show in Michigan, the Saginaw

news posted a less than stellar review of
the Texas based Zombies in 1969 stating “The

band was especially disappointing and the
crowd began to leave during their fourth tune.

The band didn’t sound like they did back when
they were selling millions of records, . When

their 40-minute set was finally finished,
there was no applause — nothing but

dead silence” the review would say.
Ramsey thought that review was not entirely

fair telling buzzfeed. “Were we perfect? No,
and we weren’t the Zombies,. “We were a blues-rock

band from Texas, a band with plenty of good
looks — better than the original Zombies.”

So you might be wondering, did the real Zombies
ever find out about the fake versions of the

band? Well yes they did and it didn’t take
that long. Co-founding member and bassist

Chris White knew about the scheme in late
1969 as he would talk to Rolling Stone Magazine

and slam them as he put it for “taking money
from our fans and dragging down our reputation.”

White also claimed the fake zombies and I
quote “had the cheek to phone up the label

in Dallas and ask for $1,000 in publicity
money”. Now this was an allegation that Dusty

Hill would flat out deny.
The same Rolling Stone piece which was titled

“The Zombies Are A Stiff” detailed an
actual phone call that happened between White

and a manager of one of the imposter groups.
White’s anger about being ripped off and

imitated didn’t seem to represent all members
of the real Zombies as frontman Colin Blunstone

told CBC in 2017
“In those times, I don’t think anybody even

knew what we looked like.. “We had this huge
hit record and there was no band. It’s not

an ideal situation, but I’m not going to come
down too hard on anybody who filled the vacuum.”

In a separate interview with the Florida weekly
Blunstone would reveal the phone call that

happened between White and one of the managers
of the fake zombies revealing

“So, the manager told him this story about
how they were all huge fans of the Zombies,”

“and since the lead singer was killed in a
car crash, they wanted to honor him and the

band by keeping the music going — and that’s
why they were playing under our name. Then,

Chris White told him he was the Zombies’ bass
player and that the lead singer wasn’t in

a car crash. Reading this in print, it was
almost like reading my obituary when I was

22 years old” he’d say.
The Zombies for their part wouldn’t reform

until the 90’s because keyboardist Rod Argent
was busy with another musical group called

Argent. Delta Promotions for their part had
other fraudulent bands touring across the

US including a fake version of the Animals
and the Archies. And as time went on more

people caught onto the scheme Delta Promotions
was a part of and it would be famed promoter

and businessman Don Kirschner who owned the
rights to the Archies who threatened to sue

Delta Promotions that scared the company.

Following the threats from Kirschner, the
Michigan’s Bay City Times ran a headline that

read: “Band Promoter Quits, Blasts DJs, and
Mafia.” And Argent also claimed that one of

the imitation bands was threatened by an angry
gun totting fan.

So what happened to the fake Zombies from
Texas after disbanding?

Well Meador ended up recording two RCA albums
with the Werewolves before passing away due

to brain cancer in 1980. Ramsey become a teacher,
while HIll and Beard joined guitaris Billy

Gibbons a few weeks later to form ZZ Top.
And Rod Argent would have the last laugh lookin

back at everything telling the Toronto Star
in 2017 “When we finish our tour, we have

to go out as a ZZ Top tribute band and repay
the compliment,” he’d say So that does it

for today’s video guys. Thanks for watching.
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If you guys have suggestions for future topics
let me know in the comments section below.

Take care.

 

 

 

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