ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill dead at 72

HOUSTON — Joseph “Dusty” Hill, bassist for rockers ZZ Top for more than five decades, has died, the group’s representative confirmed to Variety on Wednesday afternoon.

A cause of death has not been released. Hill was 72.

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The band’s Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard issued the following statement:

“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.”

Earlier this month, Hill missed his first performance with the band in more than 50 years. A statement released at the time cited a “hip issue” requiring medical attention, and ZZ Top’s longtime guitar tech, Elwood Francis, sat in for Hill, Variety reported.

Born in Dallas in 1949, Hill’s career began alongside his brother Rocky and future ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard. The trio played in local bands such as the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers and American Blues, before the brothers parted ways in 1968, citing musical differences, the outlet reported.

Hill and Beard then relocated to Houston, uniting with Gibbons and ZZ Top in 1970, but did not find true success until 1973′s “Tres Hombres,” anchored by hit single “La Grange,” Rolling Stone reported.

“People would look at us onstage, drop their jaws, and moan,” Hill told the magazine in 1974 after opening for The Rolling Stones in Hawaii. “In the end, though, we’d just blow them away, and they’d scream for us to come back. We’d feel kind of funny with the Stones watching us from behind, waiting for us to finish.”

The blues-infused heavy rock trio, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, celebrated their 50th anniversary with a San Antonio concert in February 2020.

“It’s a cliché and sounds so simplistic, but it’s down to the three of us genuinely enjoying playing together,” Hill explained to Classic Rock in 2010, according to Rolling Stone.

“We still love it, and we still get a kick out of being on stage. We also have enough in common to maintain a bond between us but sufficient differences to keep our individuality. And after all this time, we all know what winds up the others and what makes them the people they are,” Hill added.