Since the band’s formation in 1969, ZZ Top pursued a music career as a trio of Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, and Dusty Hill. Over the years, they collectively contributed to the band’s success and developed a signature sound based on Gibbons’ bluesy guitar playing style and Beard and Hill’s rhythm sections. Besides, the matching looks of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill with their beards, sunglasses, and hats became ZZ Top’s unique image.
ZZ Top’s success continued for over five decades without a change in their line-up. Since 1969, Gibbons and Hill didn’t change their stage images either. Sadly, all good things came to an end when Dusty Hill passed away in 2021. The announcement came days after the band informed the fans that Hill had a hip injury. Although there was no official cause of death issued, it was known that the bassist’s health was declining.
Dusty Hill’s passing meant an end of an era for ZZ Top, as the bassist had played for the band for over 50 years. However, as if he was aware that he had his days numbered, Hill left his bandmates a final wish before departing from this world: he wanted the group’s long-time guitar tech Elwood Francis to fill in for him. As it appears, the bassist also had a prediction about the band’s future without him.
In a 2010 interview with Classic Rock, Dusty Hill was asked about the secret to keeping ZZ Top together for such a long time. Admitting it sounds cliché, the bassist said it’s because the three enjoyed playing together. According to Hill, they had enough in common to maintain a bond while keeping their individuality with their differences. So, he believed that remaining as a trio for all those years secured the band’s longevity.
Here is what Dusty Hill said about ZZ Top’s longevity:
“It’s a cliché and sounds so simplistic, but it’s down to the three of us genuinely enjoying playing together. We still love it and get a kick out of being on stage. We also have enough in common to maintain a bond between us but sufficient differences to keep our individuality. And after all this time, we all know what winds up the others and what makes them the people they are.”
Following Dusty Hill’s passing, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard knew they didn’t lose just a bandmate but a close friend. It was an unexpected reality for them to accept, but with Elwood Francis’ arrival, they managed to continue ZZ Top’s legacy as a trio. Apparently, Hill believed the three of them kept ZZ Top together, but Francis proved him wrong with his contributions to the band’s success.
Not really. They are still going, but it’s not the same. Dusty and Billy were a single unit and knew what the other was going to do before they did it.