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ZZ Top Bassist Dusty Hill Dead At Age 72

Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, performing in Austin, Tex. in 2019. Hill has died at age 72.
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Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, performing in Austin, Tex. in 2019. Hill has died at age 72.

Dusty Hill, bassist for the enduring Texas blues rock band ZZ Top for over half a century, has died at age 72. The trio's other members, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard, announced Hill's death in a Facebook post. Gibbons and Beard said that Hill had died in his sleep at his home, but did not provide a date.

"We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, Tex.," they wrote. "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.' You will be missed greatly, amigo."

Hill — whose given names were Joseph Michael — was born in Dallas on May 19, 1949. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, into which ZZ Top was inducted in 2004, Hill already was a touring musician by age 15, and at 20 was working as a sideman with Texas country-blues icon Lightnin' Hopkins.

In ZZ Top, Hill played bass guitar, sang and played keyboards. The trio was founded by Gibbons in 1969, and both Hill and Beard signed on in 1970. They celebrated their 50th anniversary with a San Antonio concert on Feb. 14, 2020—the band's only engagement before pandemic forced a celebratory tour to be postponed.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.

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