In 2002, RCA released the compilation album Sharp Dressed Men: A Tribute to ZZ Top, an all-country salute to the Texas band’s influential and enduring work. The 15-song collection featured two generations of Williams (both Hank Jr. and Hank III recorded songs), Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, and Brooks & Dunn, among others.
The album’s title track was recorded by a young and red-hot Brad Paisley, who’d released his Number One single “I’m Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin’ Song)” just a few months earlier. Paisley’s wicked Telecaster licks added some country twang to Billy F. Gibbons’ blues riffs, and he additionally contributed a 6-string bass part to the mix. Session pro Kevin Grantt held down the low-end originally provided by ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill — who died at 72 on Wednesday — while country legends Ralph Stanley, Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Porter Wagoner, Mike Snider, and George Jones added some colorful running commentary to the track.
The accompanying video for Paisley’s “Sharp Dressed Man” is a sight to behold. Paisley performs the song, while a glitzy fashion show of country hunks strut their stuff. Tracy Byrd, Andy Griggs, and members of Lonestar — all of whom contributed songs to Sharp Dressed Men — take the catwalk, as does Anderson, who shows up in a dazzling, red Nudie-style jacket.
ZZ Top members Gibbons, Hill, and Frank Beard also make a cameo in the clip, seemingly blessing Paisley with the coveted keys to the band’s custom Eliminator hot rod, which is conveniently parked outside Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. It’s one big fake-out though: Paisley watches the car speed off before he climbs back into his aging truck.
In May, Paisley reconvened with ZZ Top’s Gibbons at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, where guest musicians performed for the Top guitarist in a taped tribute concert.