Sad news from deep in the heart of Texas. Dusty Hill, the longtime bass player for ZZ Top passed away in his sleep at his home in Houston. In a statement on the ZZTop.com website, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard posted about how they will “miss your steadfast presence, your good nature, and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’” in reference to their dearly departed Compadre. “We will forever be connected to that “Blues Shuffle in C,” they added.
The famously long-whiskered Hill is actually the junior member of ZZ Top, having “only” joined the band in 1970 to complete an ultimate power trio of Beard on drums and main vocalist Gibbons with sometimes matching furry guitar. I dare say there hasn’t been a more successful band who have stayed together as long as ZZ Top.
Fifteen albums, six #1 Mainstream Rock songs, an induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and nearly 3,000 concerts (including two Super Bowl appearances). Not bad for three amigos who had always wanted to rock more than straight blues.
Of all the artists MTV made famous, did anyone have more iconic videos than ZZ Top featuring the hot rod-licious Eliminator Coupe? If there’s anything kids today should be bingeing on YouTube to prove the ’80s were pretty cool it’s hits like “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs”.
Watch ZZ Top Perform “Sharp Dressed Man” Live
Fifty years in, ZZ Top didn’t appear to be stepping off the gas save for a leg injury the 72-year-old Hill suffered shortly after starting back up on the road less than two weeks ago. It’s too bad they’ll never be able to make up the 2020 Canadian dates that were to be in celebration of such a momentous anniversary.
His final show was on July 18th at Iroquois Amphitheater in Louisville, Kentucky; “Tush” was the appropriate closer as Hill sings lead on it. I fully expect to hear the 1975 Fandango! favourite represented on Rock 95’s Top 500 Songs Countdown over Labour Day weekend. Rock 95’s own Craig Ross tweeted his Top 5 ZZ Top tunes, and I can’t say that I can argue with any of his picks. For those old enough to remember, “Got Me Under Pressure” was used as the theme music to TV’s Maple Leaf Wrestling and was miles better than any WWF Superstar’s ring entrance music.
Another Canadian connection you may not be aware of is the critically acclaimed documentary That Little Ol’ Band from Texas was produced by Toronto’s own Banger Films. It’s currently streaming on Netflix by the way. If you haven’t already seen it, there’s no better ROCKmendation I can give while imagining Dusty Hill no doubt already twirling his bass in R’n’R Heaven.