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- Posted on Oct 1st 2010 4:00PM by Pat Pemberton
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"I was 13," Gibbons tells Spinner. "It was a big deal."
While little has been written about Gibbons' love for surf, he grew up riding waves in Texas and California, where his father worked as a musician with MGM Studios.
"We have spent quite a bit of time in Hawaii," says the long-bearded surfer, who owns a collection of boards by the late legendary shaper Dale Velzy. "And, as you know, there are places in Hawaii where the waves can become rather challenging. And probably the most challenging is a good winter surf break at Waimea. When those waves strike and you're seeing sand shaking on the beach, it's time to rethink your positioning and think, 'Well, maybe we should paddle in.'"
His scariest surf session?
"We were down in Punta Mita, down in Mexico," he says. "There came a storm surf that jumped up and pulled us all in. There were like 10 of us lined up and we got caught in a double throwdown. We were in a washing machine -- it was insane. If you get caught in one of those downturns, all of the sudden you're being pressed against the bottom sand, you're feeling that roiling water not let you up."
The key to surviving such a gnarly scenario, he says, is to keep cool under water. "You've got to maintain your sense of humility and just say, 'OK, do what you're gonna do. I ain't gonna fight it,'" he says.
Gibbons, who hopes to record in Malibu -- not a bad surf spot -- with ZZ Top later this year, does have considerable respect for the ocean.
"The interesting thing about this great big body of water that owns the planet is that it changes and it does so when it wants to and doesn't have to announce it," he says. "That's why I'm kind of superstitious about the moon. People say, 'What do you mean about the moon? You sing about the moon, make reference to the moon, howl at the moon, this that and the other.' I say if the moon can move a body of water large enough to be what we call an ocean 20 feet front or back -- and we're 90 percent water -- there's got to be something to that."
While ZZ Top is known for its Texas-style blues rock, Gibbons said he is a fan of surf music -- and owns some of the tools that made surf acts like Dick Dale famous.
"I've got my Fender reverb, I got my Jazzmaster Jaguar guitar," he says with a laugh. "I got it all going on."