American blues rock band’s bassist was a Texas icon.
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top died at the age of 72. Hill died in his sleep last Tuesday. The cause of death was not indicated.
The musician played for over 50 years with the Texas blues-rock trio. Hill, with guitarist Billy Gibbons, grew identical long beards that became an icon for ZZ Top. The image also became synonymous with Texas blues and rock.
The surviving members of ZZ Top, drummer Frank Beard and singer-guitarist Gibbons issued a statement that said, “We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas. 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 missed greatly, amigo.”
Born Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill on May 19, 1949, Hill grew up in Dallas, Texas and started playing bass at the age of 13. “Most bass players are guitar players first. I wasn’t. I was a singer and I came home from school and there was a bass guitar there, and I played a bar that night. It wasn’t very good, but I kind of learned how to play on stage and whatnot, and embarrassment is a great motivator,” Hill said in a 2016 interview with For Bass Players Only.com.
Hill was not in the original lineup of ZZ Top but joined right after their 1971 debut album was released and has since become a pillar of the band as he played not only bass, but secondary vocals and keyboards for ZZ Top as well. The band eventually got a hit with the single “La Grange” in 1973. ZZ Top opened for the Rolling Stone the following year.
ZZ Top’s hits include “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Tush,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’” to name some. ZZ Top became a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in 2004. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones inducted them in the ceremony.