- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2021

ZZ Top may be performing again soon despite this week’s death of bassist Dusty Hill. A friend of founding guitarist and singer Billy Gibbons said the musician told him Wednesday the band will continue.

Eddie Trunk, a radio personality who hosts a show on SiriusXM, said Mr. Gibbons discussed the future of ZZ Top in a series of text messages that he subsequently posted with his permission on social media.

“As Dusty said upon his departure, ‘Let the show go on!’” Mr. Gibbons said in one of the messages shared on the social media service Twitter, adding the band would “get beyond this and honor his wishes.”

Robert Melis, ZZ Top’s longtime publicist, confirmed the authenticity of the text messages when reached by The Washington Times. He added the band plans to get back on the road but could not say how soon.

ZZ Top announced Wednesday that Mr. Hill, the group’s bassist for more than 50 years, died in his sleep at his Houston home at the age of 72. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mr. Gibbons, 71, said Mr. Hill “emphatically grabbed my arm and said, ‘Give Elwood the bottom end and take it to the Top’,” according to one of the messages shared on social media.

Elwood Francis, ZZ Top’s longtime guitar tech, had filled in for Mr. Hill during the group’s last three concerts this month after the bassist was sidelined by what his bandmates had described as a “hip issue.”

His hip was bothering him so he left to go back to Texas,” Mr. Gibbons said on stage Sunday at a show in Corbin, Kentucky. 

Mr. Gibbons formed ZZ Top in 1969, and by the next year the group consisted of him, Mr. Hill and drummer Frank Beard. That line-up toured and recorded together for more than five decades.

Indeed, ZZ Top embarked on a 50th-anniversary tour in 2019 prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and the group had just begun a new round of shows when Mr. Hill was replaced on stage by the band’s guitar tech.

ZZ Top has recorded 15 studio albums, including records spawning hits such as “La Grange,” released in 1973, “Cheap Sunglasses,” released in 1980, and “Sharp Dressed Man,” released in 1983, among others.

In addition to playing bass for ZZ Top for a half-century, Mr. Hill also sang lead vocals on “Legs,” released in 1984, the band’s highest-charting single. It reached the eighth spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

ZZ Top had been set to perform Wednesday but canceled that concert. The band is next slated to perform Friday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, although it was not clear when the tour would resume.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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