Here’s an excerpt from ZZ Top‘s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame page that repeats the claim I’ve heard for as long as I can remember that ZZ Top did a Texas cattle ranch-themed tour that included real livestock on stage with them:
ZZ Top carried stagecraft to elaborate heights with its Worldwide Texas Tour: Taking Texas to the People. For this mid-Seventies extravaganza, which came between Fandango! and Tejas, ZZ Top lugged 75 tons of equipment and animals native to Texas, including a buffalo, a longhorn steer, buzzards and rattlesnakes. They also performed on a Texas-shaped stage.
That’s from the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, remember, an actual, industry-approved museum with dedicated curators! I’ve never been there, but if a fruitless community-wide, 3-day search of the Internet indicates anything I bet the Hall of Fame doesn’t even possess photographic evidence of this rock myth!
Following is the photographic result of our search of ZZ Top pictured on stage with even a single, living buffalo, longhorn steer, buzzard, or rattlesnake.
On behalf of Rock Town Hall, until photographic evidence is brought forth, I hereby call BULLSHIT ON livestock claims regarding ZZ Top’s Worldwide Texas Tour!
Mod, surely I’ve told you this story several times! I saw that show at the Spectrum. 1 longhorn whatever, 1 other huge bovine, a big vulture on a cactus, a stage made up like a Texas desert/prarieish landscape, and a set that went from sunup to sundown with the sun arcing across the back. It’s all true. I sat through Ted Nugent to see it! And in the middle, a laseriffic BOC show. Faubulous. My brother was pissed because he had to go my cousin’s wedding and missed it. The stage crap with ZZ Top meant the show didn’t let out till like 1 am! We walked to a friend’s grandparents’ house in South Philly to get a ride home, and they were pissed. It’s all true, Mod. Duh.
In addition to thye photographic evidence I’ve already submitted — which you do not reference in your incendiary post — I re-read the 20 pages written about the tour by a former ZZ roadie in his excellent tell-all memoir “Sharp-Dressed Men.” He tells of buzzards, bison, long-horn cattle, and their management from the roadie perspective Evidently, the greatest threat to the livestock’s health wasn’t the noise — it was the heat generated by the stage lights, which evidently killed off a buzzard or two. Now you know why the Zeez were relatively clean-shaven at the time: fear of heat-stroke!
I have never doubted that the tour took place as advertised, and I’m happy that we have an eye witness. The question has evolved to the one about why there is a dearth of photographic evidence.
Video footage from the World Wide Texas tour! At one point, there’s an indistinct, perhaps-bison-shaped blob at stage left — but that could be a shadow cast by Dusty’s beard.
Can it be that–perhaps–pictures of various wildlife were projected behind the stage, and the slack-jawed yokels who comprised the lion’s share (or vulture’s share) of the audience mistook them for reality, not unlike the bewildered Parisians seeing the first motion pictures shown by the Lumiere Brothers in the 1890s who feared they were about to be hit by a train coming out of the screen?
I seriously doubt that the musicians on the WWTT such as Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton were imaging the piles of manure they were regularly having to avoid stepping in on stage. The animals were real.
writeherenow, you are advancing members of Aerosmith as reliable witnesses? I believe you are making my case.
LOL!! Good one misterioso. Tom Hamilton is such the underrated rock bassist. My god that man’s ear is incredible.
I was at the Seattle World Wide Texas tour and was just comin’ on to some acid at that point and did see a buffalo after hearing it beller on one side of the stage. Then on the other side, I saw a Texas Longhorn comin’ up to stage level by elevator as was the buffalo. Blew me away! On stage on a perch, was a vulture, which when the crowd got wild, would spread it’s wings! Great show except that some asshole set a tear gas canister off after the encore. I thought it was another smoke and light show until, people started falling backwards. 14 thousand people cleared the place in about 5 minutes. Never saw so many all teared up. Look for your pics or eat some shit!
Hey just noticed that your bull is a little girl! Sounds like bull on your part! Chuck
Still no pictures, but I did find this on the Chik Fil A website (their FAQ):
Q: So, how did the Chick-fil-A Cows get their start?
A: The cows originally got their start in the music business during the 60’s as the hit group “Holly Holstein and the Heifers”. They were instrumental in the development of the “Moo-town Sound” that swept the nation. By the early 70’s, however, music tastes had changed, leaving the band to chew their cud and ponder their next direction. Down on their luck, the reluctantly signed on with ZZ Top for the 1976 “Worldwide Texas Tour”.
The tour was a disaster from its inception. The band mistakenly believed they had signed on as the opening act for ZZ Top, seeing it as a chance to revive their flagging musical career. However, they were really brought on the tour as stage props. Though humiliated, the cows honored their contract. Stories abound of post-concert debauchery the cows endured. The all night milkings and tippings made this a dark stain on the cows otherwise stellar reputation. Ever conscious of their image and reputation, the cows have managed to suppress most of the media coverage from the tour. Few, if any, photos remain to document this sad chapter in their career.
From there, the cows embarked on a remarkable film career, including such memorable performances as: Raiders of the Lost Steak, Forrest Rump, and The English Heifer. Having earned more hay than they could possibly consume, the cows retired from public life. As a public service to less fortunate cows, they remain active as Chick-fil-A spokes-creatures.
treego, welcome aboard and thanks for your eyewitness testimony. The fact that two Townspeople have now stepped forward with personal recollections of the livestock on this tour is promising in our quest to verify the story. The fact, however, that at least one of you reports being on mind-altering substances does hinder the credibility of your reports. I know I’m not alone in feeling that a photo would help put this matter to rest. Thanks!
TB, nice find!
The tear gas was real!
What was it with concerts in the ’70s ending prematurly with tear gas, firecrackers, and the like? Can you imagine that happening at an Arcade Fire show?
The show was over and the crowd was trying for another encore, coulda even been them wanting to get out. Ya think maybe. Sounds like a history scandal to me! Tell us Billy!
It’s true. ZZ’s longtime artist, Bill Narum, designed the stages, live animals and all, as well as the muraled trucks that carried them, and tended them on the tour. I was fortunate to share his last five years and heard many stories about it. There are a few photos from the tour on his Web site at billnarum.com/stage.htm.
Thanks for checking in and helping us get to the bottom of this, austinmuse. Sorry to hear about your loss. The ongoing Bill Narum exhibit that I saw on your blog looks like something worth seeing:
I was at the infamous show in Pittsburgh. The animals were real, but they were far from the most amazing thing I saw that day. We came in from the west & the highway was a solid traffic jam at 1030 on a Sat.morning.People sold weed & brownies car to car in the road. I saw one person put a bottle on the Jersey barrier & within minutes it was totally covered all the way from Carnegie to the tunnels. We sat 20 rows or so behind home plate & on the field I watched 2 bikers (real ones in colors)
charge at ea other from 50 ft & collide & you could HEAR it- I mean 15 guys were stompin ea other FOR REAL. The infield was covered in plywood (baseball season) & it was pulled up & made into cabins(many of them). There is no aisle thats horizontal across the box seats so folks used the top of the dugouts & the corregated metal was totally caved in & destroyed. In the outer concession area I got in a line to the head (many lines going way far) & it turned out to be one of 5 going to ONE trash can (almost filled to the top). I saw someone shove an m 100 down an older security guard’s pants & it blew up on his lower leg-unreal.People were climbing up on the foul ball net & I saw a guy do a half gainer (not on purpose) to the field right on his head- I mean 20 feet. There was a big fat guy passed out on the net almost right above us & hundreds of bottles collected all around him like a great big floor drain. M100s rained down from the upper deck all nite.The net was slowing them up a little so they were exploding above & around our heads constantly. Hundreds of folks were passed out in the dirt (including me for all of Aerosmith -I heard they sucked). Puke all over the place. People fucking in sleeping bags (and not in sleeping bags) in the dugouts & on the field.This was all long before the sun went down. There’s a lot more I don’t remember.Wildest concert ever. I was too young & stupid to be afraid
pontiac69, thanks for finding us and sharing! This brings back the true spirit of massive ’70s rock concerts! Don’t be a stranger.
I gotta say, MAD EFFING PROPS to Pontiac 69 for telling us that tale of 1970s rock concert insanity. One of the best, most authentic, most compelling moments of RTH 2010, for me. ZZ Top or no ZZ Top! Thanks!
Nice try “Pontiac 69” but it’s 4/1 and nothing on the Internet is true today.
Has the Snowman been snowed?!?! But mrclean, how can we be sure what you’re saying is true? I’m so confused.
I forgot to mention how ZZ was bad to the fuckin’ bone & at the height of their powers in 76- the show opened w/ the entire live side of Fandango & when they did the back & forth vocals on Mello Down Easy they stood about 8 ft apart & walked straight forward & backward a good 10 ft.to their mikes,real fast, so that they were there for a second at a time,exactly when they needed to be. I’d love to see a clip of that. Four yrs later they were at civic arenafor the Deguello tour & looked like they aged 25 years. Billy Gibbons’ voice was shot .
I saw the concert in Jacksonville, FL. It’s not bullshit. As I recall the rattlesnake was in a glass pyramid at the front of the stage. I remember the horns on the steer but not the Buffalo. It was a long time ago but it happened.
Thanks for checking in with your eyewitness account, gregg!
Can’t offer photographic proof but I saw it all. Went to the show in Nashville at the state fair. If you had a concert ticket you got in the fair for free, The show started in the dark, after a loud steer bellow a spotlight hit the side stage where a great big steer slowly rose up, it was unreal. The stage had live vultures and rattlesnakes. Still one of my all time favorite shows.
Thanks for your eyewitness account, ticlemons!
I was at several of the shows, I saw and even touched some of the animals (longhorn and buffalo, NOT snake or vulture).
Management was very particular about allowing photography or videography, so that anything that was shot would be owned and controlled by the band and Lone Wolf (management company at that time). That said, hopefully some photos will be released or found.
Rest assured it was real.
Thanks for checking in and providing yet another eyewitness account. Shoot, you even touched some of those beasts! That’s pretty convincing. Despite the highly likely credibility of your testimony, I appreciate that you, too, hope that the undeniable evidence of pre-Photoshop images are uncovered:)
It was all Bill Ham’s fault! I KNEW it!
Thanks a ton for checking in, Mssr. Manning — hope you won’t be a stranger.
HVB, resident whipping-boy for the Zeez
My Uncle is Ralph Fisher, the guy that handled the animals for the 76′ tour. The livestock on stage did happen without a doubt. I’ve got pics of me and my brother standing next to the white steer and buffalo back in the mid 70s at my grandparents farm.
hfisher, thanks so much for checking in! I’ve got pictures of myself standing next to livestock from that period, but who’s to say the livestock ever made it to the big stage with ZZ Top:)
Is there any chance you could provide us with photos from your or your uncle’s collection clearly showing these great beasts on stage with the band? We’ve been trying like crazy to find clear documentation of this historic stunt, but it’s been tough going. I’ll write you off list. Thank you.
Id have to talk to Mr Fisher to see if he has any on stage photo documentation of the Steer and Buffalo. All i have is me standing by the 2 animals at my grandparents farm in 76 and that doesn’t prove anything. I believe i saw a picture of the animals on the lifts before but can’t remember where. Ill try my best to help us put this issue to rest.
I was nineteen and at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The buffalo and the longhorn steer were on two hydraulic platforms adjoining each side of the stage. When they were lowered you could not see the animals they appeared to be inside of large boxes. At a certain point they rose up on either side of the stage. It was freakin’ awsome! I saw them with Johnny and Edgar Winter and Blue Oyster Cult (don’t remember much of either of the other bands). Just saying the large livestock was not actually wandering around the stage but on two adjoining platforms. There was no real interaction between the band and the large animals other than maybe gesturing toward them. Let me tell you though I will never forget that performance! Every time I listen to that little old band from Texas I picture those two animals rising up at the same time the words ZZ TOP flared up in sparkling fireworks behind the band! ROCK ON
I saw this tour show at Freedom Hall in the summer of 1976. The front band was Pure Prairie League, with their hit “Amy”. Their was a longhorn steer on the left side of the stage which was anagled to the audience in the shape of the state of Texas, a Buffalo on the right hand side, a cactus with a vulture…etc…..
Its here the evidence you have been seeking. A TV report on the set up and performance of a Worldwide Texas Tour gig, including filmed evidence of snake, vulture and other animals on stage. No joke,. this is the real deal. Watch from 3.15 onwards
What dya have to say about this amazing find, Mr Sceptical Mod??? 😉
I was at the show in Chicago for this tour. They played with The Atlanta Rhythm Section. Complete with livestock. Those that did not attend have no idea what they’re talking about. To all you non-believers. You missed a great show. Here is a write up of what they dealt with for the transportation of the animals included in the show. Official info for the animals upkeep.
$140,000 SPENT FOR ANIMALS ON ZZ TOP TOUR
One of the only 500 pure-bred longhorn steers in America, a 2,000 pound black buffalo, two trained black “buzzards”, and two huge rattlesnakes will be part of the stage presentation for “ZZ Top’s Worldwide Texas Tour–Taking Texas to the People.” Over $140,000 is being spent to insure that the animals are as healthy and comfortable as the humans.
They will travel under the direct supervision of animal expert
Ralph Fisher, who holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees in agricultural education.
The six animals will travel in an extra-large, specially ventilated
and lit goose-neck stock trailer with separate stalls for each. Roomy pens with exercise facilities will be constructed for the animals on the site of each concert. A local veterinarian will be back-stage during each show.
The animals will be innoculated against anthrax, brucelosis and
shipping fever, and the veterinary bus hauling their trailer will carry a refrigerator stocked with medicines in case of illness.
Get over it negative folks. The show happened and you missed it. Sorry about your luck.
Hey gr8gtrfan, I searched online for the article you provide but the only place it exists is on a facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ralphfishersphotoanimals/photos/a.716334541758721.1073741849.661809653877877/716354208423421/
There’s even a photo album. A photo album that has pictures of ZZ Top as well as pictures of apparently genuine livestock and other animals. Just not pictures of ZZ Top and genuine livestock in the same picture, much less on stage together.
As for the intriguing video posted in 2013 by The Evidence at Last, and which I’d missed: again, close but no corn-cob pipe. Footage of ZZ Top performing in 1976, check! Shots of livestock, vultures, and a snake, check! All in the same shot at the same time? Um, no.
I remain agnostic.
Re: ZZ Tops Wideworld Texas Tour.
ZZ Topp, IMHO the most jamming 3 piece Rock & Roll blues band you’ll ever see!
I was born in 1960 and on October 2 1976, at the age of 16 I caught the show with my then girlfriend, a pal of mine and my younger sister, at the Hollywood Sportatorium, in South Florida. Almost got crushed against the fence, with my buddy and I having to push against the chain link to keep my girlfriend and sister from getting hurt because management waited so long to open only two small gates in the case of this show.
The concert & set design was kick-ass and was exactly as described in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame blurb! The stage was shaped like the State of Texas, with a pyramidal shaped glass or plexiglass enclosure at the southern most tip — pretty much where Brownsville & the South Padre Island area would be on a map. That was the enclosure in-which the rattle snakes were kept during the performance!
And indeed, I remember not only the rattlesnakes but at least 2 vultures, a couple Texas Longhorn steers, wooden fencing, a number of cow skulls, the desert sun painted backdrops and in some cases real desert plants as well few well made props.
I’m not going to berate the moderator or anyone else for not believing the tour and stage design were as advertised because at least 10 years ago, I tried to find references and images of performances from the tour online and found nothing but the tour name. The reason I even looked it up was because I remembered it so well. The stage design was so very unique & original at the time and the performance was one of the best I’ve ever seen and wanted to be able to show some of my friends just what they missed!
And I’ve attended 100’s of concerts. From the Led Zeppelin concert riot at Tampa Stadium to Pink Floyd & U2, Fleetwood Mac, etc., etc., etc…..
Well, jump forward 10 years later, to present day and there is ample evidence that ZZ Tops Wideworld Texas Tour was as is! It’s also where I found this Blog and decided to say a little something about it.
If you do a search for “ZZ Top Wideworld Texas Tour Set Design Images”, you’ll find that stuff has finally started making its way online to commemorate what was truly one of the most phenomenal concert tours of the late ’70’s!
And if after doing the search I recommended and checking out the 2 attached video links, if you still don’t want to believe the Tour happened, with set design as stated — Well, I can only say that you’re probably just upset that you didn’t get to see the show — and that’s okay by me.
This YouTube Link is to a news story about the tour & includes images, video and interviews about the tour.Complements to The G. William Jones collection at Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX
This 2nd link is to a YouTube video from the Texas Archives. It’s silent but after the 1st 19 seconds, which shows I believe Point Blank, you can see Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill dressed to the 9’s and jamming away, You’ll see in the foreground at least one of the black vultures and some of the other Texas themed props.
PS: Oh. And I just noted where Billy G and the Band call bullshit on Mr. Moderator. That should be sufficient!
Sonnyboy7, I do my share of joking around, but in all sincerity, THANK YOU for finally cracking this case and putting me and my doubts to shame! This is an historic day in the Halls of Rock. And your post gave me a big smile, which is appreciated even more than the truth telling you provided. Hope you poke around the site and find some other topics to sink your teeth into. Take care!
Now what are we gonna do? Linda Ronstadt really did wear a Cub Scout uniform and ZZ Top really did have a cow. Next you’ll tell me Lady Gaga’s dress was really made out of meat.
I went to this tour in Los Angeles. Aerosmith opened and ZZ Top did appear on a beautiful sunset stage with TWO longhorn steer on either side of the stage and I remember the buzzard. It did happen; it was amazing and I call bullshit on the Mod.
@Momba, THAT, my friend is some excellent bullshit called on me! Seriously, thank you for your report!
Ralph Fisher owned the animals. He lives in Fayette County Texas just down the road from me. The original buzzard is still alive and older then me.
sleepy69, thanks to people like you, this continues to be one of my favorite threads/investigations ever conducted on Rock Town Hall. If you see your neighbor Ralph and would be willing to do a little interview with me, we would be thrilled. Thanks, and take care!
He can be reached Via Facebook. Search for “Ralph Fisher’s Photo Animals”. You should be able to reach him.
Old Blog but still relevant. Was at the August 1976 tour stop in SF at the Cow Palace. The animals were there though they were NOT on stage during the show. The Steer/Bison came up on some sort of elevated device and then descended before the Lil Ol Band from Tejas got going. Ted Nugent opened up the show in blistering oreder before the Tejas Trio blew it up!!!