On Friday, July 30th, the American Blues trio ZZ Top played the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Alabama. Elwood Francis, the band’s long-time guitar tech filled in for Dusty Hill after his death three days prior. The cause of Hill’s death has still not been released to the public.
Hill joined ZZ Top in the 1970s after Billy Gibbons’ band The Moving Sidewalks dissolved. Hill became known for his meaty and slightly distorted tone, one which allowed the trio to create a sound much greater than the sum of its parts.
The band’s other two members, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard, confirmed the news on social media. In a statement, the two say: “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.”
According to many sources, Hill insisted that the band continue after his death and, sticking to their word, ZZ Top took to the stage to honour their bandmate.
To kick things off, the band opened with ‘Got me Under Pressure’ from their classic album ‘Eliminator’ and the set included a range of songs from the infamous ‘Tres Hombres’ record. The set ended with an encore featuring, arguably, their most beloved track, ‘La Grange’, and finished with ‘Tush’, a song normally sung by Hill himself. On this occasion, however, frontman Billy Gibbons took the lead. Still, Hill’s trademark cowboy hat was rested on a mic stand throughout the performance, marking his larger-than-life presence even after his passing.
ZZ Top’s US and Canadian tours will continue as planned.
See footage of the event, below.