ZZ Top Bassist Dusty Hill Dies at 72

Music

ZZ Top Bassist Dusty Hill Dies at 72

Joined by guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard, Hill performed with the iconic blues rock outfit for over 50 years
Joseph Michael Dusty Hill of ZZ Top
Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill of ZZ Top, March 2014 (Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

ZZ Top bassist Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill has died, as Rolling Stone and TMZ report. In a statement posted to ZZ Top’s social media channels, Hill’s surviving bandmates Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons said that Hill died in his sleep at his Houston home. “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,’” they wrote. “We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’” Dusty Hill was 72 years old.

Dusty Hill, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, and drummer Frank Beard comprised ZZ Top. The Texas trio gained national attention with the breakthrough 1973 album Tres Hombres, which featured the hit “La Grange.” Across their four-decade career, ZZ Top experimented with new wave–tinged synthesizer records while staying in touch with their Southern rock and blues roots. The band’s last record with Hill was 2012’s La Futura, which Gibbons produced with Rick Rubin.

Hill was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Along with his brother Rocky Hill and future fellow ZZ Top member Beard, he played in several bands including the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues. The last outfit, American Blues, released two full-length records before disbanding in 1968. Hill and Beard relocated to Houston, where they met Billy Gibbons. The trio shared the first ZZ Top single “Salt Lick” in 1969; the aptly named ZZ Top’s First Album arrived two years later.

Following the success of Tres Hombres, ZZ Top released four more studio records before issuing their top-selling album Eliminator in 1983. It marked a turn toward the band’s more pop- and synthesizer-driven sound. The following record, 1985’s Afterburner, became the group’s highest charting LP, peaking at No. 4 on the U.S. charts. ZZ Top were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Beyond his work with ZZ Top, Dusty Hill appeared in Back to the Future Part III and the HBO series Deadwood. He also voiced himself in the 2007 King of the Hill episode “Hank Gets Dusted,” where he’s said to be the cousin of Hank Hill.

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