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TRES DEAD HOMBRES

October 19, 1986

Terry Atkinson is accurate when he states that ZZ Top has not become "fossilized" (Sound and Vision, Oct. 5).

In fact, they have become something worse: a cartoon. This once proud band now consists of nothing more than comic-book characters designed for an audience that responds more enthusiastically to a good marketing concept than to genuine, heartfelt music.

For those of us who remember when ZZ Top was one of the best blues and boogie bands going, it was truly tragic to sit through their recent tricked-up show at the Forum and hear Billy Gibbons' voice synthetically altered and his forays into guitar playing limited and obscured.

Dusty Hill has become nearly expendable and Frank Beard is expendable thanks to the great god Drum Machine (the whole miasma was orchestrated to this demanding monster).

Sadder still was the energetic response to all this by members of the MTV generation in attendance who actually thought they were getting something for their $18.50 tickets.

What they were responding to was someone's idea of what passes for a star band, c. 1986. The real ZZ Top no longer exists. That band, which I loved, died the day they consented to make their first video.

DOUG PRESTON

Santa Monica

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