Meet and Greet - Give ZZ Top a break
I'm new to this forum and as I've mentioned in my profile, I'm an avid ZZ Top fan. I'd love to meet them and, as I also mentioned, my dream would be to have a Jeremia Weed type experience close up. They truly are my rock and roll heros...but consider a few things before you lay blame on the band. I know this will be considered controversial, however, let's get real guys...
I'm not sure how many of you know Montreal or Quebec Canada, but don't lump us in with the rest of the country...we are unique and fit with Canada about as well as a glove on a foot. We're actually more like and get along better with Americans than we do with people in the rest of our country. We see many celebrities from the film and music industry and, unlike in other major cities, they can walk freely without being constantly harassed. I live in Old Montreal and there are a lot of films made here - just the other day I saw Bruce Willis walking down the street and not one person stopped him, asked him for an autograph, etc. This must feel great as a celebrity. There is a culture in Quebec that is very respectful of others, how they express themselves, their privacy -- you can be invisible here...I think that's why celebrities like our "small large city".
Put yourselves in ZZ Top's shoes for a moment. Then think of the news and some crazy events that have happened even recently. Canada is a pretty mellow place in general, Quebec in particular. However, even here, a few months ago, our new Prime Minister was almost shot and killed during her acceptance speech when a crazy came in the back door of where she was speaking, armed with an AK-47 and two other guns, and shot and killed on man before he was stopped, thankfully before they reached her. Closer to your homes, look what happened in Newtown. I'm surprised the band does meet and greet sessions for this reason alone...there are more nuts out there than we know.
Let's talk about handshaking for a moment. Thinking only of potential disease and sickeness is reason enough not to shake hundreds (or more) of fans hands. Who knows what is "out there"...actually, we do...and the statistics say that if you're exposed to that many people you will get exposed to something sooner than later. A single cold/flu could render the band incapable of performing for a week and maybe more...think of the financial consequences alone, putting health and discomfort aside. Forgetting about disease and sickness, let's also consider something else. These guys make their living with their hands. I'm sure the entire band has incredible amounts of insurance. What if a crazy fan was to hurt Billy by shaking too hard, or god forbid, willingly hurting him or one of the band members? What if it were an accident. They can't take that chance...that's their bread and butter guys and, unfortunately, it just happens to be the way humans often introduce themselves to each other. I don't blame the guys for not shaking hands with people they don't know by the hundreds, thousands or more...it's an incredible risk and I wouldn't do it either. I don't think it's disrespect for their fans...I think in this day and age it's common sense.
Let's think about the idea of talking to band members...I have to admit this is a bit harder to understand as words are free, but, first, I don't know if it's true that they don't talk to fans as I haven't personally had the opportunity to have that experience and I will give them the benefit of the doubt here...there could be really good reasons that we are unaware of, it may just be a personal style, or they may do a bit of it and it's just never enough for the fans. These are human beings...we see and hear them in our homes on Youtube and on tunes we have, in concerts and many, like me, have done so since we were young (I fell in love with ZZ Top when I was a young teenager, I will be 50 on May 1, 2013)...we know all of their names, their backgrounds, etc., etc. Although we often feel for these reasons that they are "a part of our lives", let's be honest, we do so mistakenly, they don't know us from Jack. They're stars with a talent we more than appreciate but at the end of the day they are no different than you or me...some are shy, some are intolerant, some are not sociable (fill in the entire list of human traits here) and they are not our friends...they are professionals doing what it is they and we love them to do. We have a saying in Quebec: "Vivre et laisser vivre" (live and let live)...I think this applies here. I have to admit though, if I did ever have a chance to meet Billy, Dusty and Frank and I said hello to them with absolutely no response, I'd be disappointed too...but I think unrealistically so...these guys probably don't have much personal time, they can't walk freely without being harassed on the streets...if I were them I could easily get fed up over time and just not want to do it any more.
Autographs...I'm always a bit amazed by the whole autograph thing. I'm not sure why any stars like ZZ Top would sign stuff except on rare occasion for a cause that moves them or for a very special reason. My guess is a majority of stuff they sign is sold for huge profit by those who couldn't give a rat's ass about the band or even music in general. I personally would never ask them or any other star for an autograph should I have a chance to meet them...I'd just appreciate the moment of seeing and engaging with them, even if only for a few split seconds.
I'm sure this post will not sit well with some and will likely get some nasty responses, however, this is how I feel and I'm going to assume that ZZ Top, their insurers and promoters have good reasons for the way they do business. That being said, I think the promoters should advertise these events for what they are...they aren't meet and greets...they are an opportunity for great seats and an opportunity to see the band live and closer than when they're on stage. It should be clear that the band isn't going to sit down and chat or shake everyone's hands...it's just not realistic or safe for reasons stated above. Let's give the guys a break and appreciate the fact that they are still around, making great music and we all have the opportunity to enjoy it and, of course, their kick ass videos.
Message to promoters: I feel very sad when I read about real fans being disappointed...please rectify this meet and greet stuff and position it for what it is. If a fan knows what they are going to get they will be satisfied...if they believe they will shake Billy's hand and chat with him and they aren't allowed to do it, whether right or wrong, it's disappointing and unfortunately, people tend to automatically attribute it to the band.