35 Years Ago: ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill Shoots Himself in the Stomach
Like any rootin', tootin' Texas good ol' boy, ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill has spent his fair share of time packing heat -- and he has the scar in his belly to prove it.
Hill acquired his bullet wound on Dec. 16, 1984, in an embarrassing mishap that started when his girlfriend went to pull off his boot and his derringer dropped out, discharging in the fall and hitting him in the abdomen. After being checked into Houston's Memorial City Hospital, Hill was attended to by local doctors, who managed to get him "stable, in fair condition" before the bullet had too much time to wreak havoc on his internal organs. According to Houston police, they were initially "unable to talk with Hill about why he was carrying the gun."
It's an incident that still makes Hill cringe, as he admitted during an interview in early 2014. "My first reaction was: ‘Shit!’ And then ‘Ouch.’ I couldn’t believe I’d done something so stupid. To this day, I don’t know how I could do it," he shrugged. "But I didn’t really feel anything at the time. All I knew was that I had to get myself to a hospital straight away, so I got in the car and drove there. It was only when I arrived at the hospital that the seriousness of what I’d done hit me, and I went into shock."
Fortunately, Hill fully recovered, and was back in bass-playing shape by the time ZZ Top reconvened to record the follow-up to their hugely successful 1983 album Eliminator. The result, their ninth studio set Afterburner, arrived in the fall of 1985 and helped the band close out the decade as one of rock's top acts.
He's remained bullet-free since, although he hasn't entirely avoided medical drama; the band was forced to reschedule a series of concert dates in 2014 following an injury he sustained to his hip after falling inside their tour bus.