ZZ Top's Dusty Hill: the world of music pays tribute

ZZ Top's Dusty Hill onstage
(Image credit: Didier Messens/Getty Images)

"You will be missed greatly, amigo," wrote Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard as they shared the news of the death of their longtime bass player, Dusty Hill.  

More tributes swiftly followed, as musicians the world over took to social media to recognise the man who anchored ZZ Top's bottom end for half a century. From Ozzy Osbourne to Paul Stanley, from .38 Special to the Marshall Tucker Band, and from accounts manned in the name of those already gone, they paid their respects.

Here are just some of those tributes.    


Paul Stanley: WOW! Dusty Hill. What an icon. ZZ Top’s bassist forever. So unique. Always a gentleman from the days of us opening for them through the recent days of them opening for us. I don’t know what to say but “Thank you” and “Rest however you damn well choose!”

Tony Iommi: Sorry to hear about Dusty Hill, greatly missed, a crucial part of the unique ZZ Top sound. 

The Allman Brothers Band:The Allman Brothers Band Family is saddened to learn of the recent passing of fellow musical traveller Dusty Hill, bassist extraordinaire of our friends ZZ Top.

Our love and support go out to Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard, the Hill family and all the Top fans in the world, we share your loss.

Andy Powell, Wishbone Ash: Very saddened to hear of the passing of Dusty Hill of Z.Z. Top. You Sir, were a class act . This Li’ll ol’ band from Texas used to support us instate and then boom… we became your support act. Rest in peace Dusty ~ Respects.

David Coverdale: So Very Sad To Hear Dusty Has Passed… Beautiful Soul…

Warren Haynes: Damn! Gov’t Mule is holed up in rehearsal and we just got the sad news. It's no secret that ZZ TOP was (and is) a big influence on us. I’ll never forget the first time I heard them: I had the single of “LaGrange” and the flip side was “Just Got Paid” which is odd because they’re from two different albums, but ZZ TOP always did things their own way. I moved backwards from there and discovered the “First Album” and “Rio Grande Mud” after hearing “Tres Hombres.” Man, that was/is some tasty shit! A lot of noise for three people.

Dusty was the foundation for that sound that they discovered–that chemistry that is necessary with any great band but even more crucial for a trio. Something about the way he played with Billy and Frank made it seem like a single organism traveling through the universe and and his voice had an urgency that was a beautiful counter-balance to Billy’s more relaxed and lower-pitched blues drawl. Each new song brought something fresh and different that the one before didn’t have. 

This trait was indicative I guess–maybe a foreshadowing–of the many reinventions of themselves they would come up with throughout their career when faced with the challenge of how to survive in an ever-changing music business. Many bands and artists cut from similar cloth would get “lost in the shuffle” (no pun intended) but ZZ TOP somehow found their footing time and again–one foot clinging to their roots while the other touched down heavily in new uncharted territory- a bold and uncannily clever journey through the barely navigable maze.

I’m honoured to have spent some time soaking up some of that vibe, be it in the studio, on stage, in the dressing room, or elsewhere and sharing a little insight into what made the Little Ol’ Band From Texas tick. These sort of observations are mostly indescribable but the one thing I can put into words is that they were three distinct personalities with a common mission. That’s what great chemistries are made of.

As we continue to trudge through today’s rehearsal which I’m sure is gonna wind up being mostly playing and listening to ZZ TOP songs, I’m thankful for the chemistry that we have and reminded that we should never take it for granted. Thanks to those like ZZ TOP that came before us, we were able to combine our collective and individual influences together in search of something unique. We should all be so lucky as to discover something as unique and buoyantly filled with personality as ZZ TOP."

Vinnie Moore, UFO: These guys are our roots, man. American pioneers. Damn this is sad. Thanks for the music, Dusty.....

Don Barnes, .38 Special: We are very saddened with the news of his passing.

We toured many years with the Top and cannot express the massive influence they had on us. Watching them every night was a full lesson in ‘digging in.’ You had to get outside of yourself and show that hunger.

They epitomized that hunger with a roar of explosive guitar, bass and drums and went after a crowd to the extreme. They were all kings - great characters together, a real team. And there were only 3 of them. That’s what blew us away. Victory was their game and they slayed them every night. Invaluable stuff to us.

All show business aside,

Mr. Dusty Hill was a genuinely kind man with a good joke or two every now and then. He had that distinct Texas demeanour, speaking softly but with an iron will.

He will be very missed in the rock n roll world.

Thanks for all the love, Dusty.

You were a king.

Ride on.

Foghat: We still can’t believe the sad news. ZZ Top, one of the absolute greatest bands! Life is tentative.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of this legendary man. RIP Dusty Hill. The soundtrack of my life has been heavily influenced by your music. Thank you my brother.

Scorpions: Our thoughts and prayers go out to his Compadres and the Family…

Orianthi: So sad to hear that dusty hill passed away today , I met ZZ Top when I was 16 and they asked me to be support for them in Adelaide ...what a force Billy and Dusty.

Doug Gray, Marshall Tucker Band: We are disheartened today with the loss of our longtime friend Dusty Hill of ZZ Top. So many of their songs are about broken hearts… and today we feel like one of those songs. Rest in Peace, my friend.

Brit Turner, Blackberry Smoke: We are truly grateful for the time we spent on tour with your little ‘ol band from Texas ZZ Top So many great memories... except for that one time in Kentucky, THAT was crazy.

Flea: A true rocker, Dusty Hill, who laid it down deep and real. I will always listen to you, as will anyone who ever wanted to rock out, and we will all be moved. I heard it on the X, beer drinkers and hell raisers. Rest In Peace my bass brother, you jam infinity.

John Fogerty: We are devastated to hear about Dusty’s passing. We were so blessed to share the stage with the great Dusty and ZZ Top many times, and if that wasn’t Rock and Roll heaven, I don’t know what is. The show we did together just last week would be his last. So heartbreaking.

Vernon Reid, Living Colour: Dusty Hill was the kind of musician that could be in a world famous band, & be satisfied with making it work. Like Rick Laird, who also passed on recently, nobody seeming to notice. Getting it done with humility is the opposite of the narcissism that fuels modern music culture.

Joe Bonamassa: Rest In Peace Dusty. You were a one of a kind legend and a kind and gentle soul. My condolences to his family, Billy and Frank and the entire ZZ Top organization.

Zakk Wylde: GOD BLESS DUSTY HILL • 1949 - 2O21

Ozzy Osbourne: Rest In Peace #DustyHill of ZZ Top. My thoughts go out to Billy F Gibbons, Frank Beard and all the #ZZTop fans around the world.

Lita Ford: Deepest sympathy to the ZZ Top family. “Great artists never die”!

Europe: Very sad to hear Dusty Hill (of ZZ-Top) has passed away. Great musician - and the highest order of cool. Our thoughts go out to family and close ones.

Mike Ness, Social Distortion: I’ve learned a lot listening to ZZ Top records, and I can only be grateful for guys like, Dusty Hill. See you on the other side, Dusty.

Whiskey Myers: Rest In Peace Dusty Hill a true Legend. You’ve been influencing us since day 1 and still the coolest band to ever come out of Texas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott: Today we lost a great friend and a remarkable Texan. Truly a music legend.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.