Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top has affirmed that the band will soldier on after the death this week of founding bassist Dusty Hill, asserting that it was his wish to “let the show go on.”
Gibbons texted the statement to SiriusXM “Trunk Nation” host Eddie Trunk, who passed the sentiments along via Twitter.
Gibbons said, per Trunk: “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.”
Added the guitarist in his text to the satellite radio host, “Dusty emphatically grabbed my arm and said, ‘Give Elwood the bottom end and take it to the Top.’ He meant it, amigo. He really did.”
A spokesperson confirmed the band’s plan to carry on to Variety.
The “Elwood” in Hill’s reported quote is guitar technician Elwood Francis, who has been playing bass in Hill’s absence. The group’s most recent show with Francis filling in for the ailing Hill was July 25 in Kentucky, in a tour that had only kicked off July 16, with Hill on board as usual at the time.
Received this just now via text from @BillyFGibbons regarding passing of Dusty Hill @ZZTop . Billy told me okay to share w/fans: 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.
— Eddie Trunk (@EddieTrunk) July 28, 2021
Gibbons and the other remaining founding member of the trio, drummer Frank Beard, had announced Hill’s death on Wednesday. “We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX,” they said then 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.’ You will be missed greatly, amigo.”
The group had continued the tour after Hill was forced to leave right after it kicked off. The bassist played their July 18 show at Louisville’s Iroquois Amphitheatre, then canceled a show in Evansville July 21 before resuming on July 23 in the Chicago area without Hill.
Although Wednesday night’s show was canceled, the band is currently still slated to resume the tour with a Friday night show in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The outing is set to run through Dec. 22 in the U.S. and head into Canada next year. A list of show dates can be found here.
On July 23, five days before announcing Hill’s death, the other two members had addressed his absence, after concertgoers on the first few dates of the tour grew worried about his status. At the time, they ascribed his being MIA to a “hip” issue. “The members of ZZ Top, Billy, and Frank, would like to share that Dusty, their fearless bass player, is on a short detour back to Texas, to address a hip issue. They await a speedy recovery and have him back pronto. Per Dusty’s request ‘The show must go on!’ With that directive, ZZ Top has put the services of Mr. Elwood Francis, their trusted guitar tech of the past two decades, into play with his slide guitar, bass guitar and harmonica playing in full swing.”
No cause of death for Hill has been revealed.