ZZ TOP frontman Billy Gibbons spoke to Variety about the passing of the band’s longtime bassist Dusty Hill. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Hill died in his sleep at home in Houston of indeterminate causes. On Thursday, remaining members Gibbons and Frank Beard announced that their recently launched tour would resume Friday, with their guitar tech of three decades Elwood Francis filling in.
Gibbons said that Hill played the first two shows of the tour. “And then he requested dismissing himself,” Billy recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, let me go check this out.’ And of course I said, ‘Hey, man, health is number one. Go do your thing.’ And I could tell through those first two valiant attempts, if he’s not giving it 110%, he was the first one to kind of say, ‘Gee whiz. Let’s go take care of this.'”
He continued: “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? I’m just glad he’s in a good spot.”
Asked if there an official cause of death now, or is it just he really fell asleep and didn’t wake up, Billy said: “That’s about all they can determine. Let’s face it, you don’t necessarily pass away from a broken shoulder or broken hip. Although the attending physician had earlier warned him that bursitis was not uncommon, even arthritis, and they said it’s not a very comfortable place to be. And I could tell that he was moving a little slow. He said, ‘Boy, this shoulder and hip are really starting to become a problem.’ But, as of this juncture, yeah, it was off to dreamland and beyond.”
Funeral arrangements for Hill have not yet been publicly announced.
ZZ TOP played without Hill last Friday night (July 23) at the Village Commons in New Lenox, Illinois after he was forced to return to Texas to address a hip issue.
On July 21, ZZ TOP canceled its concert in Evansville, Indiana because of a “health issue within the band,” according to local news outlet Evansville Courier & Press.
ZZ TOP kicked off its latest tour two weeks ago in Manchester, Iowa. The trek, dubbed “A Celebration With ZZ Top”, will continue in August with dates in the South, Midwest and Far West.
When ZZ TOP announced the tour, Hill — who joined the band a year after its formation in 1969 — commented: “They shut the door right after our 50th-anniversary tour and now it’s back open. We’re excited to get out there and play our music for everybody.”