“La Grange” is a song by the American rock group ZZ Top, from their 1973 album Tres Hombres. One of ZZ Top’s most successful songs, it was released as a single in 1973 and received extensive radio play, rising to No. 41 on the BillboardHot 100 in 1974. The song refers to a brothel on the outskirts of La Grange, Texas (later called the “Chicken Ranch”). The brothel is also the subject of the Broadway play and film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the latter starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds.
Tres Hombres (Spanish for “three men”) is the third album by the American rock band ZZ Top. It was released in July 1973. It was the first time the band worked with Terry Manning as an engineer. It was a successful combination as the release was the band’s commercial breakthrough. In the US, the album entered the top ten while the single “La Grange” reached number 41 on the singles charts. Meanwhile, “La Grange” debuted number 33 on the American Top 40 broadcast on June 29, 1974.
The first time ZZ Top played the song in La Grange, Texas was during the Fayette County Fair on September 5, 2015.
In March 2005, Q magazine placed “La Grange” at 92nd of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. The song is also ranked No. 74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time. Rolling Stone called the song, “…a standard for guitarists to show off their chops.”
Billy Gibbons played the lead on a 1955 Fender Stratocaster with a stop tailpiece through a Marshall Super Lead 100 amp with Celestion greenback speakers. The song was produced by Bill Ham and mixed by Terry Manning.
The initial groove of the song is based on a traditional boogie blues rhythm used by John Lee Hooker in “Boogie Chillen'” and by Slim Harpo in “Shake Your Hips”. A failed lawsuit by the copyright holder of “Boogie Chillen'” resulted in the court ruling that the rhythm was in the public domain. The line “a-how-how-how-how” is quoted from John Lee Hooker’s song “Boom Boom”.