As Linden Hudson recalls it, one night the doorbell rang at Frank Beard’s house. It was Billy Gibbons, back from finishing the last Eliminator sessions at Ardent Studios in Memphis. “Frank was sitting on the stairs that go up to his little loft that had a pool table up there,” says Hudson, who was living with the ZZ Top drummer at the time. “1 was standing talking to him, four or five feet away. Billy comes in and he’s got that look on his face, like he’s got something to talk about.”

“Well, how’d it come out?” Hudson remembers Beard asking.

“It’s done, it’s in the press, it’s headed to the street,” Gibbons replied. He had a cassette tape in his hand.

“Well, let’s hear it,” Beard said.

Gibbons handed Hudson the tape. He walked over to the stereo and pressed play. “And it starts up thumping and playing the first song on the album, ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’,” he says.

Three seconds into the song, Beard suddenly bolted up and got right in Gibbons’ face. “Who is that fucking drummer?” he asked.

“I left the room,” Hudson says. “I felt like, I don’t need to be here for this. And then a night or two later at the dinner table Frank said, ‘It’s partly your fault, Linden.’”

ZZ Top
Leaving “sharp dressed man” open to interpretation. Photo via Getty

Maybe you’ve heard these stories, and maybe you haven’t. Record-making lore has a way of trickling out over the decades, through snippets told by the musicians and technicians who were there, or those who knew them. What is myth and what is fact can depend on who’s telling the tale, and egos, management, NDAs, and the effects of mind-altering substances or just sleepless nights can all play a role in what becomes the “official story.” In the early ’80s, Hudson found himself in an unusual position with ZZ Top. An accidental interloper, an unforeseen creative collaborator, and eventually an estranged friend, Hudson got a rare glimpse into the band’s inner world—just before Eliminator exploded into popular culture. The album was timed perfectly with the dawn of MTV, its videos featuring a trio of magic cool girls, fuzzy rotating guitars, and a new, poppier sound for the band. As Eliminator soared up the charts and off the shelves like no ZZ Top record had before, listeners were mostly unaware that the record was loaded with drum machines and synthesizers rather than drums and bass—virtually unheard of for a traditional rock band at the time. The album also featured a song written by Hudson, although a credit for him was nowhere to be found.

I reach Hudson by Zoom in early March. We couldn’t get his camera to work, so I’m more focused on his slight Texas twang and somewhat scratchy voice, which gets scratchier as we near the end of the second hour of our conversation. For the past 24 years, Hudson has lived in Sugar Land, Texas (it’s two words, he’s sure to tell me), five miles from the Houston suburb where Hudson’s role in the creation of Eliminator was cemented.

Houston has been a centrifugal point throughout Hudson’s life. It’s where he grew up; “I got into music when I was 4 years old,” he tells me. “I just was a freak for listening to rock ’n’ roll. My parents gave me a transistor radio, and it turned out to be my lifeline to Buddy Holly and all those guys.”

At 19, Hudson was working as an engineer at a recording studio and studying radio and television. One day a classmate invited him to come DJ at a new FM station called KLOL. “They took a call sign on FM and just turned it into hippie rock ’n’ roll,” he says. He ended up with a prime evening time slot, using the DJ nom de plume Jack Smack. By 1970, Hudson’s show was pretty popular. He reckons he was around 21.

In those early days at KLOL, Billy Gibbons was known to drop by. ZZ Top had just released their first album, 1971’s aptly titled ZZ Top’s First Album. “He came up and met me once and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to come and hang out and watch you do a show.’” Hudson says. “One thing he liked was he could always get a couple of his cuts played when he came up to my show.” The two got to know each other, and at one point Gibbons invited Hudson to emcee one of the band’s first gigs out of town. “There were only about 30 people at the show because they were new,” he recalls.

He was just a lightening stroke when it came to thinking guitar

“I thought he was pretty articulate,” Hudson says when I ask him about his early impressions of Gibbons. “He seemed to be over-articulating when he talked, and I thought, ‘Well, he is trying to sound sophisticated or something.’ Then, when I emceed their show, I got to see him play, and I went, ‘Oh, he’s pretty good.’ He was just a lightning stroke when it came to thinking guitar.”

Hudson says he emceed a few more shows with the band as they started to get bigger, but as the ’70s went on, he left KLOL and moved around, playing in a band and working at a couple of different recording studios. “I was just being a hippie,” he says. “I had no money. I don’t know how I survived. But I was having a good time.”

A few years later, he found himself back in Houston, hanging around with some of the old KLOL people and working at a recording studio owned by Steve Ames, who happened to be the former producer of Gibbons’ pre-ZZ Top band, the Moving Sidewalks. ZZ Top had also been hanging around more, having finished the infamously ambitious and yearslong Worldwide Texas Tour and entered into a period of rest. Everybody was getting reacquainted. “It all turned into a little community of friends,” Hudson says.

Linden in the studio post-ZZ Top
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor tom. Linden in the studio post-ZZ Top. Photo by Janet Caywood

By the late ’70s, ZZ Top, known for new their musical boogie and blues, had started edging toward new musical terrain. During the two-year break the band took following the Worldwide Texas Tour, Gibbons traveled all over Europe, frequenting clubs and taking in the new sounds of disco and punk. New musical technology, like drum machines and synthesizers, was also starting to permeate popular music. Gibbons, an avid gearhead, started acquiring what he once described to Music Radar as “crazy machines that were making wicked sounds.”

A vast range of guitar pedals and some vocal effects started to enter the mix on 1979’s Degüello—notably on songs like “Manic Mechanic”—but it’s ’81’s El Loco where Gibbons’ love affair with gadgetry jumps off the deep end. “By the time El Loco came along, Billy was a postdoctoral student of synthesizers, vocal harmonizers, and numerous other gadgets,” wrote ZZ Top’s road manager David Blayney in his book about the band, Sharp Dressed Men. “So the results on the album and (thanks to sound augmentation) onstage made ZZ Top sound more like an orchestra than a three-piece band.”

It’s around this time that Hudson also found himself thrust into the ZZ Top creative orbit by way of a renovation gig. Frank Beard had recently bought a house on the southwest side of Houston that backed onto a golf course. Knowing Hudson’s engineering background, Beard asked him if he would build the band a rudimentary recording studio in his front room. “He said, ‘I can play more golf,’ or something like that, ‘if the practice studio is in my house,’” Hudson recalls. “He was trying to do something good [for the band], and then he would get a tax write-off for buying some gear.”

According to Hudson, the studio was fairly basic, about the size of a two-car garage. Beard had a decorator put silver gray fabric on the walls, and there was a drum booth finished with cedar-style boards and a window to the rest of the room. Gibbons’ seat was three feet in front of the drum booth, and the console, where Hudson could sit, faced him, about four feet away. “This place looked homey but not fancy,” he recalls. “It looked cool enough but was about function.” The studio had a 16-track Tascam analog tape recorder, which certainly wasn’t cheap but was nowhere near the high quality needed for proper studio recording. “[But] this little home studio was still a step up for ZZ Top because the Tascam was a better recording tool than the band ever had before for making demos,” Hudson says. “It was a good way to build ideas. This simple studio was our ‘secret laboratory’ in which we could experiment and invent.”

As the band filed in and tinkered away on El Loco, Hudson, knowing the ins and outs of the studio’s equipment, fell into an informal role as a rehearsal engineer. At some point, it evolved into him becoming a collaborator. “The first song I worked on was ‘[Groovy Little] Hippie Pad.’ And I didn’t know [what] he was corralling me into,” he says, referring to Gibbons. “I really honestly did not know that he was steering me into working on these albums.”

Hudson recalls a day that he and Gibbons had been working in the studio when Beard popped his head in—between games of golf—to see what was goin’ on in the ol’ laboratory. “Me and Billy are just sitting there working on ‘Hippie Pad,’ and we had already laid most of it down and we were playing it back,” he says. “So, as Frank starts to leave the room, he starts singing, ‘I’m going to buy me a groovy little hippie pad.’ And Billy says, ‘It’s find me. Hippies don’t buy hippie pads.’

“Frank looked over at me and rolled his eyes, because he was just messing with Billy. I thought it was funny. But Billy, for a second, he turned serious about making the point.”

Gibbons could be described as a playful enigma. Hudson says sometimes when they were hanging out at Beard’s, he’d suddenly get up and suggest they go play a round of golf— backwards. “He had bought a $75 pair of golf clubs from Kmart,” he says. “And we went out.... You’re not supposed to sneak on the golf course and be in the way and be playing. [Later] Frank said, ‘Hey, did y’all go out on the course?’ And I told him what we did, and he said, ‘That’s embarrassing.’”

According to Blayney’s book, some of the studio experiments at Beard’s house made it onto El Loco's final mix: synth and percussive elements that should have gained Hudson a credit as engineer. Potentially as a player, even, according to Hudson. “I was just beating on stuff with drumsticks and just stacking it up and putting echoes on it,” he says. “If you listen to ‘Hippie Pad,’ you’ll hear that clacking stuff, and I did the clacking stuff.”

But when the album came out, and there was no credit to be found for Hudson, he says Gibbons had assured him that it would pay off down the road, so he didn’t really sweat it. Plus, he was having a good time. “I was a gear freak, and Billy was a gear freak too, and that’s probably why when we got together, all we could do was talk about synthesizers and multitrack tape recorders. We were both gizmo guys.... It was kind of like I was sitting with my favorite girlfriend. I was in a studio with some equipment, and here’s somebody to talk to about it.”

After working on El Loco, Hudson ended up moving into Beard’s house. Hudson says the two were essentially becoming good friends, and he was over there a bunch anyway—plus he was handy. He could fix and install things around the house, feed the dog when Beard was out of town. It was a decent—if unconventional—scenario. There was Beard’s black Mercedes parked by Hudson’s beat-up used car, a big white cockatoo that would constantly bite him when he fed it or cleaned its cage, and a beautiful red, long-haired retriever named Gabby that slept in his room when Beard and his new wife were out of town.

Hudson’s role with the band wasn’t just limited to “live-in engineer.” One morning while living at Beard’s, he got a call from Gibbons in Kentucky. It was the first day of the El Loco tour. “Man, we’ve got a problem down here,” Gibbons said in his low-voiced, casual twang.

Hudson had made a tape of tracks that would supplement what they could play on stage, so the effect was that it would sound like the album to the audience. (“Cheating, you know what I mean?” he says.)

“It just won’t work at all,” Gibbons said, referring to the tape.

“Well, I don’t know what to say to you,” Linden replied.

“Could you get on an airplane and come down here and see if you can fix it?” Gibbons said.

Morning coffee still in hand, Hudson cursed, threw a pair of underwear in a paper bag in case he had to spend the night, and headed to the airport. When he arrived, there was a roadie waiting patiently with a sign that said “Linden.” They drove to the auditorium, and Hudson was escorted to the tape machine. The first thing he thought to do was take the ICs—basically, the tape player’s chips—out, and then put them back in, the equivalent of turning the machine on and off. It started to work immediately. “I knew we called the right guy!” Gibbons said.

Hudson ate dinner on stage with the crew and the opening band, Loverboy. “Then I went and got back on a flight and came home and had a beer,” he says.

Frank Beard
Sometimes it pays to be the one without a long, wispy beard. Photo via Getty

Hudson and Beard used to do events in Houston in support of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, an organization that Beard, a recovering heroin addict, was supporting at the time. “I was an ex-DJ,” Hudson says. “So he and I would get up, and we’d charge a door fee, and we’d do a sock hop.”

During one of these events, they had about 300 people in the room, and Hudson asked Beard if he could put on a ZZ Top song. When he did, the crowd started to sit down. “And Frank, he didn’t care, really, but he said, ‘Well, that was kind of weird.’”

Hudson tried another ZZ Top track a few songs later. The same thing happened.

A few days later Hudson says he ran into Gibbons and recounted the dance-killing experiment. “You’re shitting me,” Gibbons said.

“I thought it was weird that he couldn’t have known that it wasn’t very danceable,” Hudson says.

Hudson decided to conduct a little experiment. “I did this project where I spent several days just counting the beats of all the songs that were on the radio, all the hits,” he says. It turned out that all the popular songs of the day were around 124 beats per minute, give or take. Hudson showed his findings to Gibbons. “And he goes, ‘Well, goddamn.’”

This is a train going down a track, and nothing is getting in its way

When I reach Terry Manning, ZZ Top’s longtime engineer, he remembers the tempo eureka moment slightly differently. “[Billy] had been in Europe and going to a lot of the dance clubs,” he tells me. “And he said a lot of times the DJ would take ‘Arrested for Driving While Blind’ from an earlier record, or ‘Cheap Sunglasses,’ something like that, and play it just to please Billy, to be nice.

“He noticed that people didn’t get up and dance to those things. He said [to me], ‘I love what we did. I love the music and everything, but it’s not making these people dance. And that’s a big thing these days. How can we make people dance?’ To my chagrin, I went to a couple of dance clubs—which I hate. I would watch some of the same things. And then with a stopwatch, I did some timings and saw what beats got people up the most, what they seemed to dance to the most.”

It’s very possible that both these scenarios happened. Hudson’s relationship with Gibbons existed in an entirely different space from Manning’s. Either way, the choice to gear Eliminator to a dancier tempo had been made.

ZZ Top
“Y’know, I’m actually more of an arm man myself.“ Photo via Getty

In 1982, the band started working loosely on the album. Hudson says he and Gibbons would sit around recording ideas together. “My life [in those days] was playing in the studio and playing with gear and stuff,” he says. “So, when he started dropping in, I just would scoot over and he would sit down, you know?” Hudson says bass player Dusty Hill and Beard would come in for a few hours a day, work on their parts, and then take off again. “I did love Dusty because he was so nice to me,” Hudson recalls.

One day they were putting some test bass down on one of the songs. After about an hour of practicing, Hill turned to Hudson. “God, I’m thirsty,” he recalls Hill saying.

“Well, I just bought a brand-new bottle of Jim Beam. It’s in my room,” Hudson replied.

“Well, shit, go get it,” Hill said.

Hudson went and came back with the bottle and a paper cup, assuming Hill would have a drink or two.

“I look over and I’m like, ‘Did you just drink the whole bottle?”’

“I gotta go!” Hill says.

“And he gets up and slams his bass guitar down, and the amp is turned up loud and so it just starts shaking the walls,” Hudson says. “And he stomps out and gets in his DeLorean, and he lays rubber all the way down the street. His bass is feeding back as he’s speeding out of there, and Frank goes, ‘Don’t ever give Dusty whiskey.’ And Billy goes, ‘Uh-huh.’”

Billy Gibbons and Terry Manning getting into Eliminator mode
Billy Gibbons and Terry Manning getting into Eliminator mode. Photo by Bill Hamm, who then threw everyone out of the room, including himself.

As they continued working through new songs with tempo in mind, a drum machine became increasingly convenient. “That was not a secret to Dusty or Frank,” Hudson says. “Frank knew we were playing around; he knew we were cheating on him.”

“Let me just say that Billy was gravitating in a direction like that. His big problem was he had a big album coming up, and he wanted to get some material in the can. So I said, ‘Well, if you get a drum machine, it will never go and play golf.’”

In a 2021 story about Eliminator in Classic Rock, Gibbons emphasized Hudson’s impact on these early days:

“Linden was quite an influential, inspirational figure,” Gibbons admits. “He was right there with us when some of the material was developed and brought forward some production techniques that were then valuable. I still treasure the moments that he and I spent together. There was quite a bit of time that the two of us sat behind a mixing console discussing new waps to go about making popular music. ”

According to Hudson, various versions of what they’d been working on with synths and drum machines, or with the band—and sometimes both—would get recorded to tape. Gibbons was regularly bringing these tapes back to Bill Ham, ZZ Top’s Svengali figure who acted as both their manager and producer-at-large. Ham was also known to drop by during practice sessions—albeit infrequently. At this stage in the process, his main interest as the band’s chief overseer was just to check in on how things were going here and there. Subsequently, Hudson suspects he may not have realized just how involved he actually was. That, or his involvement was being obscured.

Ham exerted expert control and dedication when it came to how he managed everything ZZ Top. He could be secretive to outsiders and obsessive about the band’s image. He worked tirelessly to cultivate an air of mystique around the band, going so far as to forbid them at times from going out to clubs and fraternizing in public, should it ruin their rising celebrity mystery. Certainly, the unsanctioned addition of a new studio hand may not have been music to his ears.

There’s an amazing anecdote that perfectly exemplifies Ham’s relationship with the band that’s included in Sharp Dressed Men, which Linden also recounts to me when we speak. “Billy and I, a few days before, had written ‘Under Pressure,”’ he says. The pair had laid down all the bass and drums using synths and a drum machine. A tape of the song had been passed back to Ham.

The next day, Ham showed up to rehearsal. “In comes Bill Ham, sits down, and goes, ‘Okay, boys, play it for me,”’ Hudson recalls.

“Play what?” asked Beard from the drum booth.

‘“Under Pressure,’ play it,” Ham said.

There was a slight pause. Everyone was sitting still, kind of just staring at Ham. “Bill...,” Hill ventured, cautiously perplexed. “I don’t think I know that song.”

“And Billy is just sitting there,” Hudson recalls, “looking a little weird with his facial expression. Now, Bill Ham, he looks at me and says, ‘Oh hey, you can go, we don’t need you in here.’ So I look at Billy again, and now he’s rolling his eyes.”

It was a classic example of Ham getting paranoid about having “outsiders” in the room.

“I say, ‘Okay,’ and I know that they’re going to be in trouble,” Hudson says.

He got up to leave and went to take in a double feature. “I was gone for five hours, and when I came back Billy was sitting alone in the studio, in the dark.”

“Oh man, you should have seen what happened,” Gibbons said, quietly strumming a guitar.

It turned out Hudson hadn’t had a chance to turn anything on in the studio before the request to get lost. And being the studio’s sole architect, he was the only one who knew how to get all the equipment to work. The band had started trying to explain to Ham that this was exactly why Hudson had been there, but Ham brushed them off. “I can turn this stuff on,” he said. “I know about studios.”

After crawling around for about 20 minutes on his hands and knees trying to find the right switches to turn everything on, Ham gave up and left in a bad mood.

“And then Billy and I proceeded to work some more because he was still there, and you know how he is,” Hudson says.

(When CREEM reached out to ZZ Top to offer comment for this article, a representative said their current management—Ham passed away in 2016—was not interested in approaching the band to discuss incidents that occurred this far in the past.)

All told, Hudson says he introduced the notion of using the pumping synthesizer element on “Legs,” as well as some technical effects that were on “TV Dinners” and “Dirty Dog.” He says he cowrote chord and lead guitar parts on “Sharp Dressed Man,” helped with lyrics on “I Got the Six,” and cowrote “Under Pressure.” “In Texas rock ’n’ roll we’d probably just say makin’ up tunes together,” he says.

And then there was the song “Thug.”

When the rest of the band weren’t around, Hudson would work on his own music. “I had one or two old synthesizers that I had bought at a pawnshop, and I would just play with them in the studio when I wasn’t working,” he says. “I did a demo of ‘Thug’ using the drum machine that was in there; I think we had a LinnDrum machine that was on loan.

“Then one day Billy and I are working in there, and we’re sitting there taking a break, still talking about rock ’n’ roll, and he says, ‘Hey, you done anything lately? You got any of your stuff?”’

Hudson played Gibbons the song. “Well, he liked it a lot, and while it was playing, he reached over and picked up Dusty’s bass, which was right next to him, leaning against a chair. And the bass wasn’t even plugged in, and he started slapping it.”

After riffing on the song for a while, Gibbons asked if he could take the demo of “Thug” with him. “And then I went, ‘Oh shit...’” he says.

Not long after, Hudson decided to copyright “Thug.” In Sharp Dressed Men, Blayney recounts that Hudson got a telephone call from Gibbons in Memphis, who mentioned that someone was interested in the song but didn’t give any more details. By that time, ZZ Top had shipped off to Memphis for phase 2 of the album process: rerecording and refining everything at Ardent Studios with Terry Manning.

Manning, who worked with the band for 18 years, says that Gibbons brought him tapes of several songs, but that some songs were also written at Ardent. He told me there might have been drum machines or synths on the demos Gibbons brought, but he doesn’t remember any. Regardless, everything was rerecorded from scratch in Memphis.

“We jokingly called it a triumvirate of me and Bill and Billy,” he says. “While, of course, the other people would track their things but then go home. And then it was always the three of us left to finish it up.”

The enduring goal of acquiring that perfect, danceable bpm and driving sound propelled Manning and Gibbons to essentially recut much of the album with drum machines and synthesizers in lieu of bass and drums. In fact, Manning actually recut the entirety of the song “Legs” alone in his attic studio, except for Gibbons’ guitar and vocals.

“I remember an awareness of something happening that was special when we had redone the track for ‘Sharp Dressed Man,”’ Manning recalls “We put the first guitar and synth bass down, and just hearing it smashing out of the speakers, it came over me: This can’t be stopped. This is a train going down a track, and nothing is getting in its way. That was the first time that it hit me: The machines have done their thing, but it is a Billy song and he is singing and playing on it in his ZZ way. But it’s a whole new thing, too.”

This was still far from the first time that Gibbons had gone rogue and rerecorded band members’ parts himself. Blayney recounts one such instance during a recording session in the early ’70s:

As the originator and leader of the band, Billy did pretty much whatever he wanted on the recordings with Ham’s easy support in most matters. If Billy didn’t like the way a bass part sounded, for example, on some occasions he would simply recut the part himself in secret. Pete [Tickle, another roadie] once told me that he encountered Billy late one evening at the end of a recording session coming out of the control booth with a tangled mess of recording tapes in his hands and a satisfied grin on his face.

“What’s all that?” Pete asked him.

“It’s Dusty!” Billy replied, and then cackled as he tossed the exorcized bass part into the trash can. If Dusty ever knew about these goings-on, he chose not to mention it.

Crucially, Blayney also wrote that in the mid-’70s, following the release of Tres Hombres, Hill and Beard had demanded a “full, even shake” with Gibbons and Ham of what was becoming a very profitable business. The agreement would benefit both parties. Gibbons and Ham could continue to creatively control ZZ Top, and in exchange, Hill and Beard would be credited evenly on every release, reflecting the three-headed band that they definitely were live. Ham was intent on marketing ZZ Top’s cool mystique, and it would be easier to do that with the same cast of characters happily forever in the band.

That being said, the level to which Eliminator managed to “eliminate” the other two members was new—despite their names appearing in the credits.

“Look, I love Frank,” Hudson says. “But look at his position: He was a big star, and he built a studio so that everybody would be happy, and then they replace him.”

Hudson can relate. After Eliminator came out, he picked up a copy in a local music shop. On the back of the cover, “Thug” was included in the track listing. I ask him if it felt earth-shattering to make such a discovery. “It was—for the rest of my life,” he says.

I sat down and listened to “Thug” when I began writing this piece. Beneath that funk-like bass lead, the song’s catchy simplicity definitely sounds like it was built on synths. I thought about how, if Hudson’s claims were true, the band had been passively taking credit for another guy’s song for 40 years. According to Hudson, even the lyrics are the same. Like listening to a taped confession, it started to feel a little spooky.

It’s probably worth noting here that Hudson isn’t the only guy to have seen his song grace the track listing of a ZZ Top album. In 1992, a ’60s blues rock band from Texas called the Nightcaps sued ZZ Top over the use of their original song “Thunderbird,” which appeared on the 1975 live album Fandango!—credited to Gibbons, Hill, and Beard. The case was dismissed due to a statute of limitations on their claim and the fact that the Nightcaps had never copyrighted the song, although the ZZ Top version is definitely a cover. ZZ Top’s first charting hit, “Francine,” off 1972’s Rio Grande Mud, was also cowritten with Steve Perron and Kenny Cordray, who, according to a story published by Martin Kielty in Ultimate Classic Rock in 2022, spent many years without writing credits or royalties. Eventually, Hudson decided to sue ZZ Top for copyright infringement. He told Beard and his wife, Debbie, over dinner one night. They all decided it was time that he moved out.

“As far as I know, Linden did cowrite ‘Thug,’” Manning tells me. “And I believe he was paid for that after a lawsuit, perhaps, or a settlement.”

In 1986, Hudson won a $600,000 settlement from Ham and ZZ Top for “Thug.” Two-thirds of it went to Hudson’s publisher and lawyer, with Hudson himself holding on to $195,000. He used the money to buy a house for himself and his wife at the time. They had recently had a son. Eliminator, meanwhile, is one of the rare rock albums to reach diamond in the U.S., selling more than 20 million copies worldwide. It was rereleased this year on gold vinyl to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

ZZ Top
Photo via Getty

A few years after the settlement, Hudson says he ran into Gibbons at a Houston music store. The conversation was short, but Gibbons hugged him. “Jesus, man, I hope you got some of that money,” he said.

I said that sounded pretty odd, considering it was Gibbons who took “Thug” in the first place. “To be honest, I just thought he was caught off guard, so he winged it,” Hudson says.

In Sharp Dressed Men, Blayney wrote that after knowing the ZZ Top guys for decades, he had a hard time believing that they set out to “do a number,” as he put it, on Hudson. But to say the music industry can do weird things to people would be an understatement. There’s inevitably a lot we’ll never know when a band is so deeply ensconced in what can only be described with a tinge of cynicism as “show business.”

Hudson, in reflection, focuses on the positive. “I was blessed to be in the engineer chain with Terry Manning and Bob Ludwig [who mastered Eliminator],” he tells me by email several days after our initial conversation. “So, in the end, there were three engineers in a row for Eliminator, each to do his job and perform his magic. The Eliminator album was perfect. That’s the part I am so deeply proud of.”

Thanks for reading CREEM. This article originally appeared in our Summer 2023 issue. If you prefer to read in print, grab a copy here and subscribe to never miss another one.




CREEM Goes Glam T-Shirt


Boy Howdy! T-Shirts

Boy Howdy!

CREEM plushie


CREEM #004

Back Issues


What we’re listening to and other musings.
For free.