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31 July 2021

Billy Gibbons Of ZZ Top Pays Tribute To Dusty Hill

Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top
Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, 1986. Alamy
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Billy Gibbons, frontman and guitarist of ZZ Top, has paid tribute to his bandmate Dusty Hill, who passed away earlier this week. Speaking to Variety, Gibbons said: “Passing through the grieving process, I can tell you it’s no less than anyone else that loses a good friend or a close associate. And at the same time, knowing that this came up so suddenly — going to bed and not waking up… That was the luck of the draw. He was in, and he was out.”

Gibbons went on to discuss Hill’s long-term health problems:”Well, it’s no secret that over the past few years he had a pretty rough go with a broken shoulder, followed with a broken hip. And he had some problems with some ulcers. So he’s been kind of tiptoeing through keeping himself ship-shape, best he could. But I think that this was a real challenge. And by throwing in the towel, it might’ve caught up with him. Who knows?”

Discussing the emotional inmpact of Hill’s passing, Gibbons admitted he had struggled, while suggesting they’d continue with Hill’s blessing: “I had a couple of moments with the waterworks coming and going, and I really felt a sense of relief. I said, ‘Gee whiz, maybe I am human after all,’ This is coming from a very deep and glorious place, with respect to knowing that after 50 years with the guy, we were all joined at — no pun intended — joined at the hip. But knowing that we can take his wishes forward and give him all due respect… You know, he was adamant. He said, ‘I’m going to go down and see what’s up. In the meantime,’ he said, ‘the show must go on. Don’t forget it.’ And he was pointing his finger and shaking it. [Laughs.]”

Gibbons also paid tribute to Hill’s musicianship: “Just within the last couple of months, we were reviewing a couple of the rough tracks that were starting to come together from the sessions that we were conducting just a few months ago. I remember a night where they said, ‘Well, you’re the producer. You’ve got to tell Dusty to stick around or let him go. He’s delivered his parts.’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah, hold on a sec.’ I say, ‘Hey, Dust, thanks, man. Great job.’ So off he goes, and no sooner had he left the parking lot and gotten well on his way down the freeway than we encountered a very short section that I had overlooked. It was only eight or 10 bars. And I said, ‘Gee whiz, that goes by in not even 30 seconds…’ I said, ‘Bring me Dusty’s bass,’ and I handed it to the engineer and said, ‘You’re a bass player… It’s only eight bars. Let’s just fill in.’ Two hours later, we had passed the bass guitar around to every single living soul in the studio, and we still couldn’t match Dusty’s tone. He had something in that damn right hand of his that can’t be described, other than fierce.”

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