Keyboardist Lanier Greig, a founding member of ZZ Top, quietly and peacefully passed away in his sleep this week at his home in Austin Texas. I, like many people who are more familiar with the current line-up of ZZ Top of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard, were/are unaware that ZZ Top had any other members. To be perfectly honest, I was in high school when I first learned that ZZ Top was originally formed in 1969, not when I first heard of them (actually saw them on MTV) in the 1980’s with their hits “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and Lanier Greig was one of the first, and founding members of this now iconic southern rock band.
Greig was actually recruited by Billy Gibbons and then drummer Dan Mitchell to help them steer their music away from psychedelic rock into the southern rock sound that has made them famous. Though his stint with ZZ Top was brief, the fact that Lanier Greig was recruited should speak to his import in helping to launch one of the most enduring bands in rock and roll. You can hear Greig’s keyboard in two of the then new band, ZZ Top’s single “Salt Lick,” and the B-side “Miller’s Farm.” Shortly there after he was out of the band, due to “creative differences,” but his music career was not over.
Following his departure from ZZ Top Lanier Greig headed west to Los Angeles where he spent many years doing session work, and playing in jazz duos and trios. He moved back to Texas, this time to Austin (he was originally from Houston) where he composed and recorded classical music, and playing at local shows. Though no albums were ever produced or released, his son, Holland, has recently uploaded some of Lanier’s classical music to YouTube so that more can hear and appreciate his Dad’s talents.
Greig is survived by not only his music, but his son, Holland, his two daughters Ariana, and Alexis, and his brother Jud