ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons has opened up about former bandmate Dusty Hill’s health struggles prior to his death earlier this week.
News of the bassist’s passing was confirmed on Wednesday (July 28) by the group’s longtime rep, who said that Hill died at home in his sleep. No cause of death has yet been revealed.
“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX,” remaining ZZ Top members Gibbons and Frank Beard said in a statement.
“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.’”
They added: “You will be missed greatly, amigo.”
On Thursday (July 29), ZZ Top announced that the tour they just recently began would resume on Friday (July 30) after a brief postponement, with Elwood Francis, their guitar tech of 30 years, filling in.
Now, speaking in a new interview, frontman Gibbons has recalled Hill’s health struggles as well as the moment he asked to step off the recent tour.
“He requested dismissing himself,” Gibbons told Variety. “He said, ‘Yeah, let me go check this out.’ And of course I said, ‘Hey, man, health is number one. Go do your thing.’ And I could tell through those first two valiant attempts, if he’s not giving it 110 per cent, he was the first one to kind of say, ‘Gee whiz. Let’s go take care of this.'”
Speaking on Hill’s health, Gibbons said: “It’s no secret that over the past few years he had a pretty rough go with a broken shoulder, followed with a broken hip. And he had some problems with some ulcers. So he’s been kind of tiptoeing through keeping himself ship-shape, best he could. But I think that this was a real challenge. And by throwing in the towel, it might’ve caught up with him. Who knows? I’m just glad he’s in a good spot.”
Asked about how he’s been since news of Hill’s death, Gibbons answered:”Passing through the grieving process, I can tell you it’s no less than anyone else that loses a good friend or a close associate. And at the same time, knowing that this came up so suddenly — going to bed and not waking up… That was the luck of the draw. He was in, and he was out.”
While there’s been no official word on Hill’s cause of death, it has been revealed that the bassist died in his sleep, which Gibbons said is all they can determine at this point.
“Let’s face it, you don’t necessarily pass away from a broken shoulder or broken hip,” he said. “Although the attending physician had earlier warned him that bursitis was not uncommon, even arthritis, and they said it’s not a very comfortable place to be. And I could tell that he was moving a little slow. He said, ‘Boy, this shoulder and hip are really starting to become a problem.’ But, as of this juncture, yeah, it was off to dreamland and beyond.”
Since news of his death broke, a number of people have taken to social media to pay tribute to Hill.
Paul Stanley of KISS wrote: WOW! Dusty Hill. What an icon. @ZZTop’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!’”
Ozzy Osbourne said: “Rest In Peace #DustyHill of @ZZTop. My thoughts go out to @BillyfGibbons and Frank Beard and all the #ZZTop fans around the world.”
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott added: “Today we lost a great friend and a remarkable Texan. ZZ Top’s Bassist Dusty Hill Dead at 72 Truly a music legend.”