Dusty Hill, bassist for ZZ Top, one of the all-time great rock and roll bands and about as Texas as a band could ever dream of being, has died at the age of 72.
Bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement:
We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. 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.
Frank & Billy
Hill grew up in East Dallas and went to Woodrow Wilson High School, joining ZZ Top shortly before the band put out its first album. He stuck with the trio for the next five decades, although there was a late ’70s hiatus where Hill worked at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a fact I just learned in this Rolling Stone obit. This was pre-beard, and pre-superstardom. From that obit:
“I just wanted to feel normal,” Hill said in 2019. “I did not want other people to think that I thought I was full of myself, but the main thing is that I didn’t want to start feeling full of myself. So I did it to ground myself.”
During the downtime, Hill and Gibbons grew long beards. And when they remerged in 1979 with Degüello, they scored a massive hit with “Cheap Sunglasses.” But it was 1983’s Eliminator that turned ZZ Top into MTV superstars. Singles “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and “Legs” were inescapable and remain classic rock radio staples to this day. And even though their success began to fizzle out in the Nineties, the band never stopped touring and always maintained a huge following. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 by Keith Richards.
Put on Tres Hombres and pour one out for a Dallas legend tonight.