Dusty Hill, ZZ Top’s Iconic Bassist, Dies At 72
ZZ Top’s long-time bassist, Dusty Hill, has died at 72.
Hill, Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons co-founded the rock band in 1969.
The band confirmed Hill’s death on Tuesday through a statement that read, “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.'”
The statement, made by the band’s drummer, Beard, and guitarist and vocalist, Gibbons, concluded their statement, saying, “You will be greatly missed, amigo.”
Hill, born in Dallas, Texas, learned to play the bass as a teenager after his brother asked him to.
“I started singing for money when I was about eight with my brother, and by the time I was 13 my brother played guitar and we had a drummer, and so my brother said, ‘You need to play the bass. We need a bass,'” Hill told For Bass Players Only in 2016. “Most bass players are guitar players first. I wasn’t; I was a singer and I came home from school and there was a bass guitar there, and I played a bar that night. It wasn’t very good, but I kind of learned how to play on stage and whatnot, and embarrassment is a great motivator. If you don’t play well, standing up there with lights on it really stands out, so it behooves you to get your s— up pretty quick.”
The band was founded with Beard and Gibbons after Hill and Beard moved to Houston.
The band is known for its blues-influenced rock and roll. The group achieved crossover success in the 1980s when they appeared on MTV’s heavy rotation with hits like “Gimme All Your Loving” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”
The band members were also known for their bearded look – except for Beard.
In 1984, Hill shot himself in the stomach and had to drive himself to the hospital. It was an incident that was brought up years later during an interview with Classic Rock magazine.
“My first reaction: ‘S—!’ And then ‘Ouch.’ I couldn’t believe I’d done something so stupid,” Hill said in 2010. “To this day, I don’t know how I could do it. But I didn’t really feel anything at the time. All I knew was that I had to get myself to a hospital straight away, so I got in the car and drove there. It was only when I arrived at the hospital that the seriousness of what I’d done hit me, and I went into shock.”
Hill made several appearances in television shows and movies. He played himself in an episode of The Drew Carey Show in 1998 and on Two and a Half Men in 2010. He voiced himself in the animated series King of the Hill in 2007. He, along with his bandmates, appeared in Back to the Future Part III.
The rock band was introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Hill took part in a 50th-anniversary tour with the band in 2019.
As he reflected on the band’s long career in 2016, Hill told For Bass Players Only that he and his bandmates had lasted so long because they enjoyed spending time together.
“I don’t know that there is a secret. But you gotta hit it with the fun part,” Hill said. “We enjoy what we do. They’re other people that enjoy what they do for a living; turns out to be the same for us. That’s as close as I can come to answering the question. There’s a lot of different factors I guess, but the main thing is we just enjoy playing together. Different nights have different things in store for you, and it makes it interesting. That’s as close as I can come to say it.”
When he was asked about something he could do that no one else could in a 2010 Q&A, he told Classic Rock, “I like to believe that I play bass like Dusty Hill, and that’s something nobody else can do as well as me. I’m the best Dusty Hill I know.”
During the interview, Hill also shared his biggest achievements and praised his family and bandmates.
“That’s easy. I’m proud of the band and also of my wife and family,” he said. “They are constants and to have these people in my life does give me immense pride.”