(CelebrityAccess) — Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill, the longtime backing vocalist and bassist for the legendary blues-rock band ZZ Top, has died. He was 72.
“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.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo,” bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said on social media after news of his passing broke.
While Hill wasn’t the original bass player for ZZ Top, he joined shortly after the band was formed, stepping in to replace Billy Ethridge in 1969 and became a longtime fixture in the group’s lineup.
His brother, Rocky Hill, was also a member of ZZ Top but left the band due to a desire to focus on straight blues instead of the blues rock sound that early ZZ Top material epitomized.
In addition to his contributions on bass, backing vocals, and keyboards for the band, Hill shares numerous songwriting credits as well, including some of ZZ Top’s best-known hits such as “La Grange,” “Tush,” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”
A native of Dallas, Hill began playing instruments at an early age, learning cello while still in high school and picking up the guitar at 13.
“Most bass players are guitar players first. I wasn’t. I was a singer and I came home from school and there was a bass guitar there, and I played a bar that night. It wasn’t very good, but I kind of learned how to play on stage and whatnot, and embarrassment is a great motivator,” he told ForBassPlayersOnly’s Gary Graff in a 2016 interview.
In addition to music, Hill appeared in several film and television projects, including the hit movie “Back to the Future II” as well as the television series “King of the Hill” where he played himself, and HBO’s “Deadwood.”
In recent years, Hill suffered from numerous health problems. In 2000, ZZ Top were forced to truncate a tour after Hill was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and then again in 2014 when he battled kidney stones and suffered a hip replacement.
In recent weeks, Hill again bowed out of several upcoming performances over hip issues. It is unclear if his passing was connected.