The death of bearded bassist Dusty Hill has broken up one of the longest-running unchanged lineups in rock history. The 72-year-old ZZ Top member, who had been with the Texas trio for 51 years, passed away in his sleep at his Houston home Wednesday, surviving members Billy 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,'" they said. "You will be missed greatly, amigo." No cause of death was disclosed. Earlier this month, Beard and Gibbons played their first shows without Hill since 1971, saying he needed medical attention "to address a hip issue," Variety reports.
Hill, who grew up in Dallas, starting playing bass when he was 13. He also played keyboards and sang backing and lead vocals. "Most bass players are guitar players first,” he said in 2016, per Rolling Stone. "I wasn’t. I was a singer and I came home from school and there was a bass guitar there, and I played a bar that night. It wasn’t very good, but I kind of learned how to play on stage and whatnot, and embarrassment is a great motivator." Hill, Gibbons, and Beard—the only unbearded member—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Tributes to Hill poured in from across the music industry with Go-Gos member Kathy Valentine callling him a "Texas icon," reports the Guardian. " A true rocker," tweeted Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. "What a straight jammer." (Slipknot's founding drummer died Monday.)