D.usty Hill, the bassist of the rock band ZZ Top, is dead. “We’re saddened by today’s news that our buddy Dusty Hill died in his sleep at home in Houston, Texas,” shared the other members of the cult band, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard, on Wednesday on the ZZ Top website. Hill was 72 years old. “Together with legions of ZZ top fans all over the world, we will miss your steadfast presence, your good-naturedness and your permanent commitment,” it said.
At first there was no further information on the cause of death. However, the magazine “Variety” reported that Gibbons and Beard had performed without Hill for the first time in half a century of band history in the past few weeks. As a result, Hill was officially absent for hip treatment and was replaced by Elwood Francis.
ZZ Top was founded in Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969. For the 50th anniversary of the old masters of blues rock in 2019, Hills and Gibbons long beards have long been trademarks of cult musicians – just like the band’s distinctive guitar riffs. “Some people wear fake beards to camouflage, unfortunately we couldn’t,” Hill once joked in an interview. “Wherever I went, I immediately attracted a crowd.”
A little old band from Texas is conquering the blues world
The commercial breakthrough came in 1973 with “Tres Hombres”. The third studio album is now considered a classic. Gibbons, Hill and Beard released six albums in the 70s alone. In Germany they gave a few appearances at that time, in the USA they completed the huge “World Wide Texas Tour” with almost 100 concerts from 1976 to 1977.
The biggest turning point in their career came in the 80s, when Gibbons first experimented with what was then a brand new Fairlight synthesizer. After the first electronic experiments on the only moderately successful “El Loco” (1981), ZZ Top achieved a milestone two years later – but not everyone likes it.
With synthesizers, drum computers and sequencers they freshened up their rock sound, reinvented themselves and in 1983 released the powerful and pulsating “Eliminator”. Die-hard blues fans accused the group of treason. But the sales figures prove them right. “Eliminator” is to this day the most commercially successful album by the “Little Ol ‘Band From Texas” (the little old band from Texas).