Remembering Dusty Hill: ZZ Top Bassist dies at 72

Dusty Hill

ZZ Top is one of the most iconic bands, let alone rock bands, in the world. Sadly, it has been announced that the band’s long-time bass player, Joseph Hill, commonly known as Dusty, had passed away on Wednesday, the 21st day of July 2021. Dusty had been a long-time member of the band and was in fact one of its founding members. He played bass and secondary vocals for ZZ Top for more than fifty years. It was his bandmates, via a statement released, that announced the passing of their fellow band member and friend for more than half a decade. The statement said that the Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons, the other members of the band, were saddened to hear the news that their compadre had passed away in his sleep in Houston, Texas, at his home. The said news was a great shock to both of them, to their fans, and to music lovers. In general, all over the world. a myriad of tributes came pouring in from fans, musicians, and celebrities alike. Kid Rock said, the following day, that music and the world had lost one of its greats, but that rock n roll will never forget him. Kid Rock went on to say that Dusty was not only a magnificent player, singer, and songwriter, but that he was also fortunate enough to know him as a friend, and that he will never forget the bond that the two of them formed when on the road. The frontman for the band KISS, Paul Stanley, said that Dusty was an icon, that he was truly unique, and was always a gentleman from the days when Kiss opened for ZZ Top, to recently when ZZ Top opened for Kiss. The bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea, said that Dusty was a straight jammer and a true rocker.

Early life

Dusty was born and grew up in Dallas, Texas. He was born Joe Michael Hill. It is in Dallas that he also got his start in music. According to For Bass Players Only Magazine, he said that he was introduced to music at a very young age, and when he was eight years old, he started to sing for money. When he turned thirteen, his elder brother’s band needed a bass player. Even though Dusty had never really played bass, he was recruited to do so. He said that, even though initially, he wasn’t very good at playing the bass guitar, the fact that he had to play on stage is what pushed him to perfect the craft. Moreover, he said that embarrassment was a great factor in his development as a bass player and that every time he would feel embarrassed, he would put in extra effort in doing what he loved.

Starting out with ZZ Top

ZZ Top, which is commonly and more affectionately known as ‘ That Lil Ol’ Band from Texas’ was conceptualized and brought to corporeality in 1968, and has been around ever since then. Dusty was a founding member of the band and has been with them through that time. The band originally started by playing boogie blues, but eventually transitioned to rock, a move that saw them break into the limelight and achieve the success that they had been able to achieve. Their first album had a bit of a comedic twist in its name; ‘ZZ Top’s First Album’‘. It was released in 1971. The band went on to release 14 more studio albums, the latest being ‘La Futura’, which was released in 2012. For more than fifty years, the band has been dropping hit after hit. They released rock classics such as ‘La Grange’ and ‘Tush’. The reason why they have been relevant for so long is that they adapted from generation to generation, in terms of appeal and marketing, and yet managed to stay true to their roots. Most of their songs were played during the MTV era, which introduced them to the younger generation of fans. Most of their songs, from their 1980’s albums such as ‘Eliminator’, ‘Recycler’, and ‘Afterburner’, had cheeky and comedic videos for songs like ‘Sharply Dressed Man’, ‘Legs’, ‘Sleeping Bag’, and ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’. The said videos were hits with regards to the younger demographic, and thus the band managed to withstand the test of time. Throughout their career, the band had a lot of commercial ad critical success. They were recognized by many music organizations throughout the world, but especially in their hometown of Dallas. Commercially, they put up some record-breaking numbers. Several of their records have gone gold, platinum, with a few even going multi-platinum. They even have a diamond-certified song; the 1983 classic ‘Eliminator’. The Eliminator album produced some of the most widely recognized rock hits in the world, such as ‘Got Me Under Pressure, ‘Legs’, and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’.


Even though the band has not released an album since 2012, the band has continued to tour through the country, performing both as main acts and as opening acts for other bands and musicians. When on tour in August of 2014, Dusty was injured when he fell. This resulted in him needing surgery and extensive physical rehab afterward.


Even though the cause of death is not known, what is clear is that Dusty has been battling hip issues since he fell. The weekend before his death, the band had announced that he would be missing some of the next scheduled tour dates because of the aid hip issue and that his temporary replacement, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, would be the band’s longtime guitar technician. Dusty had also had some health complications. In 2000, he had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and shortly before he had surgery for his initial hip injury, he had also had surgery to remove some kidney stones.


The band’ documentary was released in 2019, and according to TMZ, while the band was doing a press run in order to promote the said documentary, Dusty said that he had lived it, referring to the contents of the documentary, and an overall analysis of his life. Dusty lived wonderfully and died peacefully. He will, without a doubt, be missed throughout the world.

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