We’re saddened to hear the news about ZZ Top’s longtime bassist, Dusty Hill’s passing. We send our condolences to Dusty’s family, ZZ Top, crew, friends & fans.
Born: May 19, 1949 – Died: July 27, 2021
Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill was an American musician who was the bassist of the rock band ZZ Top. He also sang lead and backing vocals, and played keyboards. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of ZZ Top in 2004. Hill played with ZZ Top for over 50 years; after his death, he was replaced by the band’s longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis, in line with Hill’s wishes.
On July 27, 2021, Hill died at his home in Houston, Texas at the age of 72. Hill died in his sleep. His rep confirmed the musician’s death, but said a cause of death was currently unknown.
According to a Facebook post by the band, Hill recently suffered a hip injury, preventing him from touring with the band. At that time, the band said its longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, would fill in on bass, slide guitar and harmonica.
“We are saddened by the news that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” surviving members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement. “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.”
Gibbons confirmed that the band would continue with Francis, per Hill’s wishes. According to Gibbons, “Dusty emphatically grabbed my arm and said, ‘Give Elwood the bottom end, and take it to the Top.’ He meant it, amigo. He really did.”
Upcoming performances for the trio included a Las Vegas residency at The Venetian Resort scheduled to begin Oct. 8.
Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, Dusty Hill headed to Houston in 1970 and joined ZZ Top, alongside guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard. The band grew in popularity blending blues and rock and roll, and went on to release 15 albums in their roughly 50-year history.
Hill wasn’t ZZ Top’s original bass player. He joined shortly before they cut their debut LP, ZZ Top’s First Album, in 1971, and remained a pivotal part of the group through their most recent albums and tours. Throughout all that time, the lineup stayed just Hill, Gibbons, and Beard, making them one of the most stable acts in rock history.
Hill said in an interview to Classic Rock in 2010 “It’s a cliché and sounds so simplistic, but it’s down to the three of us genuinely enjoying playing together,”
“We still love it, and we still get a kick out of being onstage. We also have enough in common to maintain a bond between us but sufficient differences to keep our individuality. And after all this time, we all know what winds up the others and what makes them the people they are.”
Hill, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969. The band released its first album, titled “ZZ Top’s First Album,” in 1970. Three years later it scored its breakthrough hit, “La Grange,” which is an ode to the Chicken Ranch, a notorious brothel outside of a Texas town by that name.
The trio became recognizable worldwide for their distinctive look: long beards, sunglasses and Stetson hats.
They also gained fame for their popular music videos, including “Gimme All Your Lovin'” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” going on to win three MTV Video Music Awards.
Dusty Hill mourned by fellow rockers