Rock legend Dusty Hill, the bassist of ZZ Top passed away this week at the age of 72. He and fellow bearded guitarist Billy Gibbons formed one of the most iconic bands of their era. Here are some interesting tidbits about the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Why He Grew The Beard
ZZ Top came to be as known for both their bluesy hits like “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Tush” and for their long, luxurious beards. Did you know those beards were only grown out of coincidence?
In 1976, ZZ Top’s album Tejas failed to make an impact. After a tough tour, the group went on a two-year hiatus before reconvening in the studio. Gibbons later explained, “My beard has grown to doormat proportions. And I realize that Dusty had done the same thing.” Their drummer, ironically named Frank Beard, would remain clean-shaven throughout his career. The iconic look came about because they were enjoying time off, not for better marketing.
He Was A Hard Workin’ Man
During that lengthy hiatus, Hill stayed busy — not by making music, but by literally working at the airport. He spent a few years in relative anonymity at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, not long removed from stadium tours and acclaim.
Hill said he just wanted to feel normal after spending so much of his life on the road, so he called a friend from home that worked at the airport. “I did not want other people to think that I thought I was full of myself,” Hill said, “but the main thing is that I didn’t want to start feeling full of myself. So I did it to ground myself.” Can you imagine seeing members of, say, Motley Crue helping you at baggage claim?
He Had Hepatitis C
ZZ Top had to cancel a few shows and tours over the years, including one in 2011 for Hill’s acoustic neuroma. In 2000, they were forced to postpone their European tour after learning Hill was diagnosed with hepatitis C. He received treatment, and they were back on tour a few years later.
A Huge WWE Fan
Both Hill and Gibbons were regular fixtures at WWE events through much of the 2000s. The two even hosted an edition of Monday Night Raw on July 20, 2009. The two never needed to hold up a clever sign since their beards made them stick out in a crowd like few others. The WWE extended their condolences to Hill’s family, a lovely gesture for a lifelong fan.