Dusty Hill, the bassist for ZZ Top for over 50 years, has died, according to a statement by bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard posted on Facebook. Hill was 72.
Born Joseph Hill in Dallas in 1949, the bassist got his start performing in local bands with his brother, Rocky, and drummer Frank Beard. In 1969, Hill and Beard moved to Dallas and teamed up with guitarist Billy Gibbons to form ZZ Top.
The blues rock band burst onto the scene in 1973 with the hit single “La Grange,” a raunchy tune based on a brothel that also served as the inspiration for the Broadway musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” The band quickly gained popularity as one of the most in-demand live acts in America over the course of the 70s, but burnout and creative stagnation led the group to take a two-year hiatus in 1977.
When the group returned with the 1979 album “Deguello,” they soon exploded into mainstream success with songs that brought in influences from other popular genres of the time like punk rock and new wave. With the rise of MTV in the 1980s, ZZ Top build their famous, long-bearded public image with music videos for hits like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Give Me All Your Lovin’.”
While many other long-lasting bands have seen lineup changes over the years, Hill, Beard and Gibbons have stayed together for over 50 years, releasing 15 studios albums as ZZ Top with plans to release a sixteenth album at the time of Hill’s death. The band is estimated to have sold over 50 million albums and has received three Grammy nominations, including one for Best Music Film this past November.
The statement from Beard and Gibbons announcing Hill’s death can be read below:
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