ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons leaves fans fuming after Newcastle and Wollongong shows

Billy Gibbons (frontman of ZZ Top). Picture: AP
Billy Gibbons (frontman of ZZ Top). Picture: AP


Both ZZ Top and Billy Gibbons have released similar statements following fan backlash at “bizarre” Up Close & Personal concerts with guitarist Billy Gibbons in Wollongong and Newcastle.

Via the rock band’s Facebook the group wrote the expectations of Gibbons’ role “seem not to have been in line with what he was asked to do”. The statement implied miscommunication was to blame and Gibbons was never contracted to play songs but only talk about hot rods.

However the statements fail to address why the star failed to meet fans in Newcastle who had paid extra for the VIP experience, nor did it address why Jimmy Shine spent more time talking on stage than Gibbons to the disappointment of fans, nor did it address concerns over where thousands of dollars from a memorabilia auction went or why Gibbons left the Newcastle concert after just 45 minutes.

Advertisements for the show specifically stated it would consist of “intimate life stories, while kicking back with Billy as he plays and reflects on some of his favorite (sic) tunes and famous riffs”.

ZZ TOP Statement regarding Billy Gibbons Up Close & Personal dates in Australia:

Audience expectations regarding Billy Gibbons' role as a performing musician in the recent Up Close & Personal dates through Australia seem not to have been in line with what he was asked to do when his services were engaged last year.

Mr. Gibbons was contracted to appear on those dates to discuss his passion for custom cars and hot rods with Jimmy Shine and to sign autographs and greet fans with no musical component called for or anticipated in the arrangement. It should be noted that, based on that understanding, he didn’t even bring, nor did he request musical equipment appropriate to such a performance.

It appears that these dates were promoted in such a way as miscommunicate to ticket holders that a substantial musical performance would be part of these events. Billy Gibbons, ever the consummate professional, had not planned nor prepared that kind of program and regrets that his role in those dates appears to him been grossly misstated.


It seems guitar legend Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top has not been giving all his loving to fans with outrage continuing once he left the Illawarra. 

After leaving hundreds of fans fuming after two “bizarre” shows at Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, Newcastle’s show on Wednesday wasn’t much different while the fourth and final show in Brisbane has been cancelled due to “unexpected circumstances”.

Fans who made it to the Civic Theatre in Newcastle reported the Sharp Dressed Man only appeared on stage for 45 minutes and played three songs despite being told it was a two-hour show. While ticket-holders who had paid $200 to meet the star were left without what they paid for.

The crowd turned angry and restless with reports of booing and glass being thrown at the stage. A NSW Police spokeswoman confirmed officers were called to the venue just before 10pm for “unorderly behaviour”.

Peter Muir vented on promoter The Brew Brothers’ Facebook page calling the event a “disgrace” and urged them to issue refunds and cancel further shows.

“Put them on the first plane home, at least the local support acts showed what ozzies are made of but Billy and Shine should hang their heads in shame, I think I’ve have listened to my last ZZ Top song, feel free to share this post to save others from wasting their money,” Mr Muir posted.

Another fan Mark Taylor was also “feeling ripped off” after the Newcastle performance – or lack thereof.

“Feeling ripped off. A small handful of songs and a number of half answered audience questions from Billy. As my dad and I walked out, amongst bottles being thrown at the stage at the end, there was nothing but negative comments heard from ALL who viewed this short show. Love the guy and the music, but tonight was absolute shite,” Mr Taylor said.

It comes after management of Illawarra theatre Anita’s were bombarded with angry fans – many demanding refunds – after similar antics over the weekend. 

Fans branded the ’ “Up Close and Personal” tour a “Disaster”, “shamozzle”, “bizarre” and “worst show I’ve ever seen”.

Anita’s managing director Nick Josifovski said he hoped music lovers would continue to support his venue in light of what was presented on stage.

“Ultimately it’s the artist’s reputation that is on the line,” Mr Josifovski  said.

The shows were promoted as evenings of greatest hits, intimate life stories and hot rod tales with Gibbons and his entourage.

But ticket-holders were outraged at Gibbons’ lack of music and his “lack of enthusiasm”, as well as the strange antics of the compere. Questions were also raised over where thousands of dollars made from auctioned memorabilia was going.

Jimmy Shine and Billy Gibbons in Pyrmont shortly after Gibbons arrived in Australia for his 'Up Close & Personal' tour in January. Picture: Rodney Brewer

Jimmy Shine and Billy Gibbons in Pyrmont shortly after Gibbons arrived in Australia for his 'Up Close & Personal' tour in January. Picture: Rodney Brewer

Both Thirroul shows failed to sell out and only held intimates crowd of around 300 each. Outside of the support band, Gibbons’ only performed three songs on Friday and four on Saturday (though it’s reported he played La Grange twice).

The Illawarra Mercury contacted the promoter Mr Brewer on Tuesday who said he would return with a statement from Gibbons in 10 minutes but failed to respond.

Songs and stories tours by musicians are not new to the Illawarra with veteran rocker Jimmy Barnes set to bring his second tour of that style to Anita’s Theatre this year. The Angels have also had recent success with a national tour in the same vein that stopped by Wollongong.