Analysis ZZ Top played 50 years with the same lineup, can the band continue after bassist Dusty Hill’s death?

Probably the new bassist Elwood Francis has big boots to fill.

ZZ Top bassist Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hillin death automatically raised the question of the continuation of the legendary band. Hill died on Wednesday, July 28, at the age of 72, while sleeping, according to the band.

Would he be looking for a successor, or would he visit ZZ Top as well as Motörhead Lemmy Kilmisterin after death, i.e. the whole band would be finally put on the dock?

The successor is probably the band’s longtime guitar technician Elwood Francis, who a few days before Dusty ‘s death was already lucky for him at a gig. At least the American media has reported that Dusty would have liked the band to continue and that Francis would have been his successor of choice. ZZ Topin guitarist Billy Gibbons and a band spokesman Bob Merlis have confirmed this.

Few the band has been as personalized to its members as the three-man ZZ Top. Guitarist Billy Gibbons and Hill were the band’s sliding front figures, while drummer Frank Beard was, ironically for its name, the beardless back support of the gang.

ZZ Top has been an band that has been exemplary in surfing the waves of music for over 50 years, changing styles all the time. And it’s amazing even to the extent that ZZ Top’s music didn’t even represent a highly regarded genre, even at the time the band was born.

Admittedly, time has shown that plush base rock bursts to the surface at regular intervals to then sink into the shade of dayflies again.

Dusty Hill photographed in September 1986 in Munich, Germany.

Founded in 1969, ZZ Top’s music has been simple, crumbling blues rock from the beginning, with a strong southern, Mexican-Texas border airflow. For example, if you look at the reputable Rolling Stone magazine Record Guide’s reviews of the band’s first albums, they’re not very flattering. In a way, ZZ Top’s critical reception at the time equated with the mumble initially encountered by another hugely popular contemporary band, Creedence Clearwater Revival.

With psychedelia and prog pounding in the brainstorm of critics at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, rooted rock was not really fashionable, but even simple and folk.

But ZZ Top persistently continued to roll and managed to develop solid popularity in his home region of Houston and elsewhere in Texas. “Little Ol’ Band from Texas ”was the title that ZZ Top was happy to use. It exudes the band’s homeland spirit and closeness to the country.

The big reason for the localization was that the band’s music, in its tightness and tight rhythm, was absolutely excellent bail music, from which the fans did not look for anything deeper. In ZZ Top, the original message of rock was kind of condensed: joy of life and attitude.

But they don’t Top’s grandparents had nothing grown in the barn. When it came time to pick up topical ingredients for the music mix and recreate the sound a bit, they were ready. The presses blew, but Billy, Dusty, and Frank added synthesizers and 1980s dance sounds to their music, and performed on Music Television with hilarious music videos. The result was the band’s commercial golden age from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s.

Slightly ZZ Top’s raw roots suffered from the most smoothed sounds on albums like Eliminator, Afterburner and Recycler, but basically the beginning still remained a similar blues rock.

Later in the 1990s, the band groped. New albums appeared at a steady pace, but they were a bit of a cumbersome attempt to go back to the old style on the one hand and to include newer elements on the other.

In the 21st century, the ZZ Top has been on a saving flame. There have been only two new studio albums, and a couple of live recordings have also been released. 2012 released the band’s latest studio album to date La Futura referred to a complete return to the roots.

Perhaps the band is most strongly personified by Billy Gibbons, who has taken care of most of the vocal parts as well as, of course, all the guitar work. But while there are far fewer songs sung by Dusty Hill, they have their own personal touch, as does Hill’s bass playing, which has provided a steel base for ZZ Top’s music.

Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill in Munich, Germany in 1986.

Unlike often thought, Dusty Hill was not ZZ Top’s original bassist. He joined the band in 1971 just before it released their debut album, so all of the band’s albums on bass are Dusty.

As a live band, ZZ Top was in its element, as its members were not only great musicians but also funny showmen in their own laconic way, with their all-time hair guitars. In Finland, ZZ Top has performed 11 times since 1986.

The band threw all the gigs to the end. John Fogerty stated after Dusty ‘s death that his and ZZ Top’ s joint gig just about a week ago was Dusty ‘s last.

ZZ Top gig in Birmingham, England in June 2016.

ZZ Topin members formed one of the smoothest and longest-running ensembles of rock. In 2010, Dusty Hill told Classic Rock magazine, “Sounds like a simple cliché, but we’re doing well because we enjoy playing so much together. We have enough in common to keep our ties together, but also enough differences to keep our individuality ”.

Time will tell how ZZ Topin will eventually go after Dusty leaves, but Elwood Francis will have big boots to fill anyway.

“We miss you so much, Amigo,” Billy and Frank wrote in their memoirs to their bandmate.

So do we.

Dusty Hill, Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons in Dortmund, Germany in 1982.



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