"Buddha Bubba": Billy Gibbons and Bill Narum's Fellow Artists Comment on the ZZ Top Graphic Designer's Passing
When Rocks Off learned that Texas countercultural icon and longtime ZZ Top graphic designer Bill Narum passed away Wednesday night, one of the first things we did was reach out to the ZZ camp for a statement. The Lil' Ol' Band from Tejas' publicist just got back to us with a message from the Rev. Billy F. Gibbons himself. Here it is verbatim - we just love the way he talks:
"Bill Narum... Man of many talents as a gifted artist, designer and persistent protagonist on many fronts. As the designer and creator of each and every early ZZ TOP cover, his hand forged the perception of the artist essence of ZZ TOP... Cactus, desert sand, rattlesnakes and javalenas, jalapenos, hot sauce and hot bluesrock imagery from way deep down in Texas.
"Scribble on, Bro Bill. You were the best!"
"Bill Narum was a friend, colleague, role model and mentor. In those heady days at Sheauxnough he, along with Guy Juke, Micael Priest, and the other talents there, gave me my remedial art education.
"I'm stunned. It is hard to imagine Austin without Narum."
"With Bill Narums passing we lost one of the most talented and generous members of the art community. He set the bar for the rest of us with amazing artistic abilities, incredible design sense and seemingly boundless technical knowledge. If you knew Bill was involved in a project it was going to be done exceptionally well and he inspired everyone involved to be at their best.
My first introduction to Bills art was the classic ZZ Top album covers and the monumental sets done for their concert tours in the 70s. If that wasnt enough, he created some of the most compelling concert posters from that time as well. When he wasnt experimenting with video, photography, painting at his easel he was living a fiercely brave adventurous life. If we ever had a Renaissance man in our midst, Bill was that guy. I wish I had told him all this to his face when I had the chance."
"I first met Bill in Houston in 1968 while working at Space City News. I was doing artwork for SCN when Bill started coming around doing art for advertisers or whatever. I remember going to his apartment and he had a room set up as a "studio". I had met a real artist. That's how Bill always seemed to me, a real Artist. His style always seemed so clean, professional and commercial while also being really, really cool. Slick but funky. Down home uptown. Texas chicadelic.
"But most of all he was a wise, peaceful calm presence amongst whatever turmoil that was swirling around him. He was the third eye of the storm. A Buddha Bubba."