ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons recently talked candidly with Classic Rock about the origins of his nickname, “The Reverend,” recalling the con that gave rise to it: That dates back to when I was roughly eighteen. These powerful radio stations XEG in Reynosa and XERF across the river from Del Rio, Texas, along the Mexican border captivated us. Following six o’clock in the evening, you could purchase shows in fifteen-minute intervals. Before the preachers appeared, there were people offering piano lessons and selling one hundred newborn chicks for two dollars. The musician continued, saying that he was persuaded to try asking others to send him money in exchange for “buying 15 minutes’ worth of airtime.”
“Now, our acquaintance who works on Houston’s docks received a delivery of some Chinese slippers. However, they were all awkward and unsure of how to handle them. We therefore dubbed them Thought-Provoking Soul Slippers and paid a penny for them. Speaking about their approach to problem-solving, he said: “I started selling these slippers on the radio as the Reverend Willie G.” [Takes on a Southern preacher’s voice] “With your love offering of five, ten, a thousand dollars, or more, I will send you Thought-Provoking Soul Slippers!” Thousands of prayers will be sent to Jesus with each step you take, and we will stamp your favorite psalm into the sole!
When Gibbons’ parents began to wonder where the money coming via the mail was coming from, his life as a con artist came to an end, but “the nickname stuck.” What The Nickname Accompanied. Later on, Gibbons put his moniker to another use when he was consecrated as a pastor of the Universal Life Church. Since then, he has performed at other weddings in the music business, such as Billy Joe Shaver’s second marriage in 2008 and Tim Lowman and Dani Bell’s wedding in 2022.
Regarding the marriages he officiated, Gibbons once stated to the Midland Daily News: Over the past 20 years, I’ve probably officiated at 50 to 60 marriages. The most noteworthy one happened in a massive IKEA store. How wonderful is it to have a furnished wedding complete with Swedish meatballs? He gave the following explanation of why he began officiating weddings: “It all began years ago when a couple asked me to’marry’ them because, you know, they refer to me as ‘The Reverend Willy G.'” I simply went ahead and conducted it after researching the official certification process. “Happily ever after” has ensued since then.