Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill, longtime bassist for blues rock veterans ZZ Top, has died at the age of 72. The sad news was confirmed on the band’s social media, with Hill’s bandmates Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons saying Hill died in his sleep at his home in Houston.
“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX,” the band wrote.
“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.”
Born in Dallas, Texas in 1949, Hill, his brother Rocky and future fellow ZZ Top bandmate Beard played in numerous local bands together in the 60s, including The Warlocks, The cellar Dwells and American Blues. In 1968, In 1968, Hill and Beard relocated to Houston where they met Gibbons.
Hill joined ZZ Top less than a year into their formation in 1969, with the core lineup of himself, Gibbons and Beard remaining in place for over five decades and 15 studio albums. The Texas trio had a breakthrough in 1973 with third studio album Tres Hombres, which featured the hit ‘La Grange’. Beginning with 1983’s Eliminator, the band increasingly veered towards a more pop-oriented sound, experimenting with instrumentation like synthesisers while retaining their Southern blues roots.
In addition to playing bass, Hill sang and played keyboards on many of ZZ Top’s albums. Hill also performed lead vocals on several songs throughout the band’s discography, generally at least one song per album, including 1975 single ‘Tush’. The band’s last album was 2012’s La Futura.
Hill also made numerous on-screen appearances throughout the years, featuring on episodes of Deadwood, The Drew Carey Show, King of the Hill and Two and a Half Men, generally as himself.
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