Longtime ZZ Top manager Bill Ham dies aged 79

Bill Ham managed ZZ Top, pictured 1973
Bill Ham managed ZZ Top, pictured 1973 (Image credit: Getty)

Longtime ZZ Top manager Bill Ham has died aged 79 at his home in Austin.

The Travis County Medical Examiner Office confirmed his passing to Austin 360, though the cause of death has not yet been announced.

The Texan founded management company Lone Wolf in 1969 and helped ZZ Top on their rise to international fame and also propelled country singer Clint Black to stardom.

After ZZ Top departed Warner Bros for RCA Records as their sales began to dip in the early 90s, Ham won a contract that earned them millions over five albums.

In 2000, Ham topped the 25 Most Powerful People In Austin list in the American Statesman – as his firm Hamstein Publishing company heavily influenced the country and pop charts over the years.

Texas Music Office director Casey Monahan also credited Ham with single-handedly making Texas an “industry hub” to rival New York or Los Angeles – but the music titan himself famously refused to talk to the press about his work.

Monahan told American Statesman: “There are a lot of people who want to know how Ham has done it, but we may never know.”

ZZ Top parted ways with Ham in 2006 after their RCA contract ended – but guitarist Billy Gibbons said of Ham: “We were together from the beginning. It would not have worked with any of the pieces missing – the three of us and him.”

Tragedy struck the ‘Lone Wolf’ after his wife Cecile Ham was murdered by Spencer Goodman in 1991. He was executed by the State of Texas via lethal injection in 2000.

Billy Gibbons: Life Beyond ZZ Top

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.