[Re-posted] Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Posted by Laurie Patton Smith for the Musicians Hall of Fame, Nashville, Tennessee
Leave it to Loretta…
So what is that hat on top of the Top? You know sunglasses, leather jacket, beard, beanie? What is that on top of the Top? My curiosity was peaked when I found out that I would have the chance to see Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum’s Annual Induction Show. I googled, I stalked webpages and I found so many different stories about that hat. I read that it was a peace offering from an African priest, a gift from a fan, even that it was the creation of a lady knitting beanies at a mall kiosk. Well one of the good fortunes of doing some work for a museum, especially one devoted to music, is you can learn the history or let’s call it the back story of past events. Enter Loretta Harper, daughter of famed artist Betty Harper, Nashville girl, movie costumer, stylist, designer, master of anything creative, including Billy Gibbon’s hat. In 1997 Houston, TX, Billy Gibbons fresh off his Continental Safari tour with ZZ Top showed Loretta Harper, girl who knew where to buy the best Rock clothes and jeans in Nashville, his African hat. “Honey, don’t put that hat on your head! It’s too ancient! You will catch a disease!” was Loretta’s very southern opinion of his hat. It seems it was ancient, circa 1600’s made with matted horse hair dreads. Loretta told Billy she would make him a new one just like it. So doing what she does best, she found just the right material, made the perfect dye bath, and hand sewed each little 1 and a half inch dread onto a wig cap. 300 hours later the Top had his new top. Loretta has often wondered if Billy was still wearing the actual hat that she made. This year in Nashville she ran into Billy and sure enough it was still her hat.
Posted by Laurie Patton Smith at 6:18 PM