Music Video of the Day: Rough Boy by ZZ Top (1986, directed by Steve Barron)


“He’s this fictitious character who was the only way that ZZ Top was going to get to play another ballad. The way he came up was, ‘How would a ZZ Top fan allow such a beautiful, lush bed of sound into their realm?’ The pretty music had to have a rough boy in it. He’s there. On El Loco we did ‘Leila’ which is ZZ Top-meets-the-Beach Boys. I don’t think it worked as well as, say, a synth programmer meeting a rap guy in an alley in New York. The only thing is, how long is it going to be before somebody says, ‘Hey, man! You the rough boy?’ How are you going to answer that?”

— Billy Gibbons, on Rough Boy

Today’s video of the day is the video for Rough Boy, a.k.a. ZZ Top In Space.

After spending the previous four ZZ Top videos changing lives and saving relationships, Billy Gibbons’s car, the Eliminator, achieved it’s final destiny by becoming a space shuttle and breaking free of the Earth’s atmosphere.  In this video, the Eliminator docks into a space station, where it gets washed and impresses a robot about whom it can truly be said, “She’s got legs.”  In fact, that’s all she’s got.

Rough Boy has a notably slower tempo than many of ZZ Top’s other songs and the same thing can be said of this video.  It’s a good video but it still feels different from what we typically think of when we think about ZZ Top.  This video says that the Eliminator and the band have both earned the right to take it easy and enjoy a good sponge bath.

Like the video for Sleeping Bag, Rough Boy was directed by Steve Barron.  Barron is officially credited with having directed 74 music videos, including the famous animated video for a-Ha’s Take Me On.

Enjoy!

Previous Eliminator Appearances:

  1. Gimme All Your Lovin’
  2. Sharp Dressed Man
  3. Legs
  4. Sleeping Bag