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Dusty Hill
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top performing in San Antonio, Texas 2015.jpg
Hill performing live in San Antonio, Texas, 2015
Background information
Birth name Joseph Michael Hill
Also known as
  • Duster
  • The Dust
  • The Dustbunny
Born (1949-05-19)May 19, 1949
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died July 28, 2021(2021-07-28) (aged 72)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Bassist
  • singer
  • songwriter
Instruments
  • Bass guitar
  • keyboards
  • vocals
Years active 1966–2021
Labels
Associated acts
Dusty hill finland 2010
Dusty Hill performing live in July 2010

Joseph Michael "Dusty" Hill (May 19, 1949 – July 28, 2021) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter, best known as the bassist and secondary lead vocalist of the American rock group ZZ Top; he also played keyboards with the band. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of ZZ Top, in 2004.

Early life

Hill was born in Dallas, Texas. He and his brother Rocky Hill (also a musician) were raised in the Lakewood neighborhood of East Dallas. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School (Dallas) where he played the cello.

Career

Hill, his brother, and future fellow ZZ Top member Frank Beard played in local Dallas bands the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues. From 1966 to 1968, American Blues played the Dallas-Fort Worth-Houston circuit. In 1969, Hill was a member of a fake version of the British band The Zombies with Beard.

In 1968, the band decided to leave the Dallas–Fort Worth area and relocate to Houston. At this time, however, Rocky Hill wanted to focus on "straight blues", while Dusty wanted the band to rock more. Rocky left the band and Dusty and Beard moved to Houston, joining guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons of Houston psychedelic-rockers Moving Sidewalks in the recently formed ZZ Top just after they released their first single in 1969. Hill played bass and keyboards in the band and was secondary lead vocalist.

Hill's on-screen appearances include Back to the Future Part III, Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme, the July 20, 2009 episode of WWE Raw and Deadwood, and as himself in the 11th-season episode of King of the Hill, "Hank Gets Dusted", in which Hank Hill is said to be Dusty's cousin. He also made an appearance on The Drew Carey Show as himself auditioning for a spot in Drew's band, but is rejected because of his attachment to his trademark beard which he refers to as a 'Texas Goatee'.

In 2000 he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and as a result, ZZ Top canceled their European tour. Hill resumed work in 2002.

Hill was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of ZZ Top, in 2004.

In July 2021, the band played their first performances without Hill in more than 50 years, explaining in an announcement that he had been forced to seek medical attention "to address a hip issue". The band's longstanding guitar technician, Elwood Francis, filled in as bass player.

Death

On July 28, 2021, Hill died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas, aged 72. His death was announced by his ZZ Top bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard.

Musical equipment

Hill preferred playing Fender custom bass guitars (as seen in the article main picture) with a reverse telecaster type headstock- so the tuning keys were "upside-down".

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