Dusty Hill recorded bass and vocal parts for a new ZZ Top album, Billy Gibbons reveals

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons
(Image credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Billy Gibbon has revealed that the late bass guitar icon Dusty Hill, who recently passed away at the age of 72, recorded bass and vocal parts for an upcoming, soon-to-be-announced ZZ Top album.

Gibbons shared the news while in conversation with Variety, saying that the follow-up to 2012’s La Futura will feature Hill’s rough recordings, which are said to be in need of some “completion work”.

When quizzed about the progress the band had made on the album prior to Hill’s passing, Gibbons reported that many of his vocal parts had been tracked, saying, “I think the luck of the draw was, I handed Dusty a couple of lyric sheets and I said, ‘Hey, see if you can make heads or tails out of this.’ 

“He said, ‘Can I sing it?’ I said, ‘Dusty, you could sing the calendar if you wanted to – people would love it.’ He goes, ‘Hey, that’s not a bad idea. If we ever get back to go to work, can we add the calendar into the show? I know all the words.’ I said, ‘Get in there. Go sing.’

"So, yeah, we’ve got a couple of things [with Dusty singing lead] that’ll make sense."

As for the album’s four-string parts, Gibbons went on to recall an album recording session from a few months back that left the entire studio in awe of Hill’s “fierce right hand”.

“I remember a night where they said, ‘Well, you’re the producer. You’ve got to tell Dusty to stick around or let him go. He’s delivered his parts,’” reflected Gibbons. “So off he goes, and no sooner had he left the parking lot we encountered a very short section that I had overlooked. It was only eight or 10 bars. 

“I said, ‘Bring me Dusty’s bass,’ and I handed it to the engineer and said, 'You’re a bass player… It’s only eight bars. Let’s just fill in.' Two hours later, we had passed the bass guitar around to every single living soul in the studio, and we still couldn’t match Dusty’s tone.”

[L-R] Frank Beard, Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

(Image credit: Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images)

Recently, ZZ Top took to the stage for the first time since Dusty Hill's death, supported by stand-in bass player and longtime tech Elwood Francis.

On continuing the tour with Francis, Gibbons commented, "It was a direct directive from Mr. Dusty Hill. When he grabbed my arm and said, ‘I think I'm due to go visit the physician to see if I can bounce back,’ he said, ‘In the meantime, I want you to grab our guitar technician, Mr. Elwood, and take him out of that tech station and strap him up with my guitar and make him carry on with every single note.’

“And I said, ‘Well, if that's your wishes, I'll respect that.’ And sure enough, we've been very fortunate to have a stalwart standby to fill in.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.