Legendary rock group ZZ Top has lost its bassist: Dusty Hill, who’d played with the band since 1969, died in his sleep at Houston home Wednesday, per an Instagram post from the band. He was 72.
Born Joseph Michael Hill in Dallas, Dusty Hill moved to Houston more than 50 years ago to join the group that’s become giants in music, not just for its music but also for Hill’s and frontman Billy Gibbons’s outrageously long beards. Known for hits like “La Grange,” “Gimme All Your Lovin,” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” ZZ Top has been a mainstay in the American rock scene for more than half a century, getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2004. The group had been working on its 16th album, which is supposedly getting released later this year.
The cause of Hill’s death is unknown, but in Illinois last weekend ZZ Top played its first show ever without him after a “hip issue” forced him to return to Houston early, per a post on the ZZ Top Facebook page. The group’s longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, took the stage in his place.
“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',” his bandmates Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons wrote. “We will forever be connected to that ‘Blues Shuffle in C.’”
Since the news broke Wednesday, Texans have been expressing their grief on social media:
Today we lost a great friend and a remarkable Texan.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 28, 2021
ZZ Top’s Bassist Dusty Hill Dead at 72
Truly a music legend. https://t.co/VVkJ67E7lN
Happy trails, Dusty. pic.twitter.com/qC5j01afBr— Craig Hlavaty (@CraigHlavaty) July 28, 2021
RIP Dusty Hill, one third of Houston’s own ZZ Top. pic.twitter.com/eyIcCsOtPD— Houstorian (@Houstorian) July 28, 2021
One of my earliest memories working for Astros in the late '90s: Astrodome cameras would zoom in on a couple of bearded dudes in upper deck (yes, upper deck) jumping, hooting, hollering, cheering on the 'stros. That's when I first learned ZZ Top is from Houston. RIP, Dusty Hill.— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) July 28, 2021
Rest in peace to the legendary @ZZTop bassist and Texan, Dusty Hill. We always loved to watch him on our stage. With ZZ Top’s connection to Houston, they understood the significance of the Rodeo and always performed with a high level of creative energy. ❤️ #RIPDustyHill pic.twitter.com/4Z52NMqGnd— RODEOHOUSTON (@RODEOHOUSTON) July 28, 2021