Billy Gibbons said his next solo album will likely be named in honor of his old friend Joe Hardy, the producer and engineer who died earlier this year.

"I think we're going to call it Hardware, and that's in tribute to the late Joe Hardy, our stalwart engineer for four decades," Gibbons told Guitar World, referring to the late collaborator's 35-year association with ZZ Top. "Joe recently passed on, but in his wake he left the instruction manual -- 'Here's how to do it.' We're still trying to get to the back chapters. It goes deep."

Hardy first started working with the band on 1983's Eliminator, and continued up through Gibbons' most recent album, The Big Bad Blues. “Our friend Joe Hardy played a huge role in our lives," the band said in a statement at time of his death. "He was a true innovator in a field where many just did it 'by the book.' He threw away 'the book' and wrote his own. The result took our audio signature and just about everything he worked on to new sonic frontiers. When we met in Memphis more than four decades ago there was an instant connection and the relationship was cherished until he left us. Joe will be missed but, in a very real sense, we’ll be able to always hear him."

In November 2018, a few months before he died, UCR spoke with Hardy, who talked about working with Gibbons. "Here’s one thing I can tell you that is absolutely true and that he will approve if I say this: He will lie about anything," he said. "Our saying is that he would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth."

Hardy added that Gibbons would often ask his advice on lyrics and that he'd sometimes have to deal with the guitarist's restlessness. "He also -- and he knows this -- he can be lazy," Hardy noted. “'That solo is good enough.' 'Man, you went sharp on that note in the second bar of the middle solo.' I tell him stuff like that and then he knows that he did. He can hear it just as well as I can, he’s just wanting to move onto something else. So I’m more of a taskmaster sometimes."

ZZ Top will release Goin' 50, a 50-song compilation commemorating their 50 years together, on Aug. 16. The band will also begin a new tour that day with Cheap Trick serving as the opening acts on most dates. Shows will run through Oct. 20. You can see all the dates here.

 

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