HOUSTON (AP) — ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, one of the bearded figures of Texas blues rock trio, has died at their Houston home, the band announced Wednesday. He was 72 years old.
Guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard said in their Facebook posts that Hill died in his sleep. He did not specify a cause of death, but a July 21 post on the band’s website stated that Hill was “on a short trip to Texas to address a hip problem.”
At the time, the band stated that its longtime guitar technique, Elwood Francis, would fill in on bass, slide guitar and harmonica.
Dallas-born Joe Michael Hill, he, Gibbons and Beard formed ZZ Top in Houston in 1969. The band released their first album, titled “ZZ Tops First Album”, in 1970. Three years later it produced its breakthrough hit, “La Grange”. ”, which is an ode to Chicken Ranch, an infamous brothel outside the Texas town by that name.
The band hit “Tush” in 1975, “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin'” in 1983, and “Rough Boy” and “Sleeping Bag” in 1985.
The band’s 1976 “Worldwide Texas Tour”, with its iconic Texas-shaped stage filled with cactus, snakes and longhorn cattle, was one of the most successful rock tours of the decade.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards introduced the band to the hall, saying: “These cats are so into the blues, so am I. These cats know their blues and they know how to craft it. The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘I hope these guys aren’t running, because this disguise won’t work.'”
That look—with all three members wearing dark sunglasses and two frontmen sporting long, wispy beards—became so iconic as the subject of a New Yorker cartoon and a joke on “The Simpsons.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that ZZ Top was formed in the late 1960s, not the late 1970s.