The man who helped shape ZZ Top's sound and career since the very beginning, Bill Ham, passed away in his sleep on Monday at the age of 79.
Ham is heralded as an innovator in the music business and praised for his modest demeanor that preferred attention be focused on his artists rather than himself.
Born in Waxahachie, Texas, Ham's career began as a Dot Recording artist with a single produced by Pat Boone. From there, he worked early on as a record promoter for Bud Dailey Distributing in Dallas before meeting Billy Gibbons, who at the time fronted a Houston-based psych rock group called Moving Sidewalks. Ham had seen the group open a concert for the Doors in 1968 and formed Lone Wolf Management to manage them. When that outfit disbanded, Gibbons and Ham continued their relationship to the next project, ZZ Top.