ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, the long-bearded bassist for the million-selling Texas blues rock trio known for hits such as Legs and Gimme All Your Lovin', has died at age 72.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard said Hill died in his sleep. They didn’t give a cause of death, but a July 21 post on the band’s website said Hill was “on a short detour back to Texas, to address a hip issue".
"We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston," they posted. "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'. You will be missed greatly, amigo."
Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, he, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969, naming themselves in part after blues singer ZZ Hill and influenced by the British power trio Cream.
Their debut release, ZZ Top’s First Album, came out in 1971. Three years later, they broke through commercially with La Grange, a funky blues song in the style of Slim Harpo’s Shake Your Hips that paid tribute to the Chicken Ranch, a notorious brothel outside of the Texas town of La Grange.
The band went on to have hits such as Tush in 1975, and the 1980s songs Sharp Dressed Man, Legs, Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Sleeping Bag. The band’s 1976 Worldwide Texas Tour, with its iconic Texas-shaped stage festooned with cactuses, snakes and longhorn cattle, was one of the decade’s most successful rock tours. Their million-selling albums included Eliminator, Afterburner and Antenna.
ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, introduced by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
“These cats are steeped in the blues, so am I,” Richards said. “These cats know their blues and they know how to dress it up. When I first saw them, I thought, ‘I hope these guys are not on the run, because that disguise is not going to work.’”
That look, with all three members wearing dark sunglasses and Gibbons and Hill sporting long, wispy beards, became so familiar, in part thanks to their MTV videos in the 1980s, that it was the subject of a New Yorker cartoon and a joke on The Simpsons.
- Additional reporting by AP and AFP