Ron Schneider, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top (guitar and vocals)
At the age of 5, I wanted to BE A Secret Agent Man! By the time I was 13yrs old I just wanted to PLAY the “Secret Agent Man” theme on guitar! So for my 13th birthday, my Mom and Dad bought me a Harmony acoustic guitar from Monkey Wards. My friend Ricky Hensley taught me how to play my first song, ” Louie, Louie”. I quickly mastered that riff and Ricky offered to let me sit in with his band. Week after week, my childhood buddy taught me everything he knew and eventually sold me his 6 string Sears Silvertone guitar. Back then, no kids in my neighborhood had an actual bass, so we’d have to plunk out bass lines on our guitars. I wanted to be the first kid to own a real bass, so I bought myself a Harmony Semi-Hollow Body— Not exactly my first choice but it was all I could afford with the money I earned cleaning fish tanks at the local pet store 3 days a week! I’ve been hooked on bass ever since.
Later, when I was a freshman at Taft High School, I joined the school’s band program playing upright bass. I spent most of my time teaching other kids how to play popular rock songs on their instruments; much to the dismay of our band teacher, Mr. Freidman, who already disliked me because of my long hair. Screw band class, I wanted to rock! As a teenager, I continued to play in rock bands that covered Top 40 tunes. I ended up starting a band inspired by Early Frank Zappa music called Dr. Bizzaro and the Disgustos, which played nearly exclusively on the Custom Van Truck-In circuit. We gained quite a following and received national press in several Custom Van Magazines, Hot Rod magazine, and a sweet mention in Rolling Stone. After eight years or so of playing with Dr. Bizzaro, I joined General Patton’s band, where I learned to hone my skills as a vocalist.
A few years— and bands— later I was fronting a trio called Triple Threat. A major portion of our set included early ZZ Top tunes that the three of us loved. I spoke to a top booking agent of the day who told me that he would kill to find a good, reliable ZZ Top cover band. At the time there was only one other ZZ tribute in the Chicagoland area. Those guys were the epitome of a bad ZZ Top tribute act; Horrible, fake, glued on beards, bad costumes, poor musicianship, and no stage presence. I knew immediately that we could do better, so I quit trimming my beard and in October of 1992, with the help of Bobby Z, Eliminator was formed. We played our first gig on December 4th, 1992 and haven’t stopped since!