Prior to his unexpected death on July 28, 2021, ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill instructed his bandmates to continue on without him and enlist the band’s longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis in his place.
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“When he was feeling a bit out of sorts, he requested going to see his physician, he said, ‘Listen, if I’m late getting back to the gig, make sure that Elwood, our guitar technician, wraps his hands around my guitar,'” said Gibbons in a recent interview. “Hill spoke fondly of Francis describing him as “more than a family member. He’s been a solid standby for over three decades.”
Hill was a mainstay in the band for more than 51 years, along with vocalist and guitarist Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard.
“We’ve got the makings of a band that is partially the tried-and-true longstanding experience with something so fresh, and [there’s] kind of uncharted territory that’s being broken,” added Gibbons. “We find it rather intriguing. It’s a calling that has us grinning from start to finish.”
Formed in 1969, ZZ Top released their 15th album, and last with Hill, La Futura in 2012 and are set to release a new live album Raw on July 8. The album was recorded at the longest-running live music venue and dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall, which was built in 1878 and one Gibbons calls a “grand resonating speaker box.”
Gibbons said that Francis, who also plays in his own band The Mighty Skullhead, joining ZZ Top as a member, only happened because of Hill.
“Not only was he a great performer and a great friend,” said Gibbons of Hill, “he had a thread of wisdom.”
Photo: Ross Halfin / BMG Press Release