BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS
From page 16 of Classic Rock Magazine December 2004
THE MOVING SIDEWALKS
Who the hell were The Moving Sidewalks? Led by guitarist Billy Gibbons, the four- piece hustled a living as the fastest psych band fighting out of Houston, Texas. They released a handful of local singles and a solitary album, ‘Flash’, in 1968.
What kind of classic rock did they serve up? Inspired initially by local peyote rockers 13th Floor Elevators, the Sidewalks’ spaced- out sound progressed fast after they opened a series of shows for Jimi Hendrix.
“He was the master of the Stratocaster,” says Gibbons, freely admitting the influence.
“He developed chord structures and new chord positionings for rock music, squeezing things out of a simple guitar-and- amplifier set-up that hadn’t been written about in any manual.”
Jimi gave Billy a pink, late-1950s Strat on the tour.“Hendrix said it was too pretty to burn,” Gibbons reveals.
What happened next? After the Sidewalks split, Gibbons attended a Hallowe’en party gig featuring a long- time rival psych band from Dallas. The American Blues had a very cool gimmick: they all had their hair dyed bright blue.
Gibbons agreed to play a guest spot in the second set, joining drummer Frank Beard and bassist Dusty Hill – the first time the three men
who would later become ZZ Top shared a stage.
Forgotten gems ‘99th Floor’, a local Houston hit, appeared on the second volume of the ‘Pebbles’ series, concreting the Sidewalks’ place in garage-psych history. There are some sexy licks and psych effects on the LP’s ‘Flashback’ and ‘Reclipse’, but don’t expect ZZ Top-style polish.
Hints of things to come At the time, Hendrix called the Sidewalks the best garage band in America. Jimi had heard enough to recognise a fellow blues master in the raw, naming young Billy as his favourite guitarist during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Need to hear this for yourself? The Moving Sidewalks’ ‘Flash’ is out as a cheapish Italian import, with the addition of five bonus tracks.