ZZ Top's longtime bassist Dusty Hill has passed away, the band announced in a statement Wednesday (July 28). He was 72.
Upon Hill's death, the band - which is now comprised of Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard - shared this statement:
"We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the 'Top.' We will forever be connected to that 'Blues Shuffle in C.' You will be greatly missed, amigo."
The Texas rock band was on tour when they announced on July 23 that Hill was heading home "to address a hip issue." On ZZ Top's Facebook page, they revealed Hill requested "the show must go on," and so their guitar tech of 20 years, Elwood Francis, filled in to play slide guitar, bass, and harmonica. The band mentioned they were expecting Hill to have a "speedy recovery."
Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill was born in Dallas, Texas on May 19, 1949. He and his musician brother, Rocky, started their careers by singing for money when Dusty was 8. He took up bass at age 13, also playing cello throughout high school.
Hill, his brother, and future ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard played in local Dallas bands the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues. Rocky eventually left the group, and the future ZZ Top members relocated to Houston in 1968, where they met ZZ Top founder Billy Gibbons. After a few ZZ Top lineup changes in the early days, Hill and Beard officially joined the band and made their album debut in 1971.
Hill was the secondary vocalist of the band. However, he did sing the lead vocals on "Tush," the band's first top 20 hit and one of their most popular songs. The Guardian wrote today (July 29) Hills' bass tone was "every bit as crucial to their sound as Gibbons’ guitar," and said his vocals were "high, true tenor" contrasting Gibbons’ "radioactive growl."
With Hill's help, ZZ Top have landed seven albums on the Billboard 200, a Moonman for Best Group Video for "Legs" at the first MTV VMAs in 1984, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and three Grammy nominations.
Per Hill's wishes, Elwood Francis will continue to take Hill's spot in the band throughout the rest of ZZ Top's tour. It is set to end Dec. 12 in Midland, Texas.
See ZZ Top's tribute to Dusty Hill below.
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