Watch ZZ Top return to the stage for first show since Dusty Hill's death

ZZ Top onstage
(Image credit: Charley/YouTube)

ZZ Top have played their first live shows since the death of bassist Dusty Hill last week. 

The band played at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Alabama on Friday, and at Wild Adventures, in Valdosta, Georgia on Saturday. Bass guitar duties were handled by longtime ZZ Top guitar tech Elwood Francis, who stepped into Hill's boots when the bassist left the tour after the band's performance on July 18 at the Iroquois Amphitheater in Louisville, Kentucky, after just two shows of the band's 50th anniversary tour.   

The band kicked off both sets with Got Me Under Pressure from their 1983 album Eliminator, and ended then with Tush, normally sung by Hill but now by guitarist Billy Gibbons, with Hill's cowboy hat placed on a mic stand in tribute. Full set below.    

In a new interview with Variety magazine, Gibbons revealed that the replacement bassist has Hill's full blessing.      

"It was a direct directive from Mr. Dusty Hill," says Gibbons. "When he grabbed my arm and said, 'I think I’m due to go visit the physician to see if I can bounce back,' he said, 'In the meantime, I want you to grab our guitar technician, Mr. Elwood' - Elwood Francis - 'and take him out of that tech station and strap him up with my guitar and make him carry on with every single note.' And I said, 'Well, if that’s your wishes, I’ll respect that.' And sure enough, we’ve been very, very fortunate to have a stalwart standby to fill in."

Gibbons also reveals that Francis's ZZ Top-appropriate beard came about as a reaction to lockdown.  

"What’s really got everybody on the ropes is that Elwood had been holding down the guitar technician post for 30 years as a clean-shaven young fellow," says Gibbons. "And when the lockdown was imminent, we all gathered for a band meeting, before things got too fierce. And I said, 'Dusty, it looks like we’re not going to be able to go do much or go anywhere. What do you plan to do?' And he said, 'Well, I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do. And that’s cut the lawn. I’m not going to cut the grass.' And I smiled and said, 'Well, I’ll join you on that.' 

"And Elwood piped up and said, 'Well, if you guys aren’t going to cut the grass, I’m not going to cut my whiskers.' And when we regathered to commence rehearsals just a week and a half ago, here came Elwood, and I said, 'My gosh, you’ve got chin whiskers as long as me and Dusty!'"

ZZ Top's 50th anniversary tour continues.  

ZZ Top setlist

Got Me Under Pressure
I Thank You (Sam & Dave cover)
Waitin' for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Gimme All Your Lovin'
Pearl Necklace
I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
I Gotsta Get Pai
My Head's in Mississippi
Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis cover)
Just Got Paid
Sharp Dressed Man

Brown Sugar
La Grange

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.