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ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill dies at 72; band had Strip residency booked

Updated July 30, 2021 - 7:46 am

ZZ Top co-founder Dusty Hill, who gave the band its thunderous, low-end bass and sang lead on its cover of “Viva Las Vegas” has died. He was 72.

The long-bearded rocker’s death was announced Wednesday by band mates Billy F. Gibbons and Frank Beard. The musicians said in a joint statement:

“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.”

Gibbons later texted: “As Dusty said upon his departure, ‘Let the show go on! And with respect, we’ll do well to get beyond this and honor his wishes.”

No further details were immediately available. His death effectively ends one of the greatest eras in rock ‘n’ roll history. Gibbons, Hill and Beard have been the only members of ZZ Top since the band’s final lineup was formed in 1970.

ZZ Top had five dates scheduled at The Venetian Theatre from Aug. 8-16. There is not yet an announcement as to how those dates will be filled, or how those holding tickets should proceed. ZZ Top has been a frequent headlining act in Vegas for at least two decades.

Gibbons has moved to the city while developing a solo career. His “Hardware” album was released in June.

At Gibbons’ encouragement, Hill sang “Viva Las Vegas” in studio and also onstage when ZZ Top performed in Vegas in 2018. In an interview that year, Gibbons recalled the moment he presented the idea to Hill.

The band was closing a tour at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, La. Elvis had played that venue in 1954 and 1955, during the famed Louisiana Hayride concerts.

“So I told Dusty, ‘I need your vocal charms on this Elvis number that could be a bonus on the greatest hits album,’” Gibbons said. “Dusty didn’t want to do it. ‘I’m sooooo tired.’ But when I said, ‘You’re standing in the same dressing room Elvis stood in during the Louisiana Hayride, it’s time for you to sing an Elvis song.’ And doggone it if he didn’t belt it out.”

Gibbons shook his head and added, “The version you hear now, the recording of that song is Dusty singing in that dressing room. It was perfect.”

Hill remembered that time when planning the set list for Vegas. “Viva” had to be included.

“It would be kind of a shame if we didn’t play it (laughs),” Hill said. “I can see us going to Chicago and not playing it, but in Las Vegas? Folks might not be happy with us.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands owns The Venetian.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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