Watch: ZZ Top Play First Show Since Dusty Hill’s Death
The concert came just two days after the founding bassist passed away in his sleep. Though Hill’s death was unexpected, he had been dealing with several ailments in recent weeks, including leg and shoulder injuries.
“'I think I’m due to go visit the physician to see if I can bounce back,'” Billy Gibbons recalled Hill telling him at the time he stepped away from touring. The frontman explained to Variety that Hill was clear about who should take his place. “'In the meantime, I want you to grab our guitar technician, Mr. Elwood (guitar tech Elwood Francis) 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.'”
Despite the circumstances, ZZ Top appeared in good spirits during their Tuscaloosa set. The trio started the evening with a rambunctious rendition of “Got Me Under Pressure,” after which Gibbons addressed the crowd.
“We’re gonna have a good time in here tonight,” the frontman proclaimed as the audience welcomed him and the band with thunderous applause. “Got a new guy up here, as you know. Dusty gave me the directive. My friend, your pal, Elwood Francis is gonna hold it down behind me.”
From there, the iconic band launched into a set featuring some of the most beloved songs from their more than 50 year career.
Hill remained an omnipresence throughout the performance. At various moments, Gibbons mentioned his departed comrade, while also praising Francis’ musicianship. “How ‘bout that Elwood, tearing up that bottom there for Dusty,” Gibbons declared at one point in the set. “I’m gonna tell ya, that beard is real, folks,” the frontman joked, before echoing the story of how Francis ended up with ZZ Top-style facial hair courtesy of the pandemic.
The night ended with ZZ Top coming back for an encore made up of "Brown Sugar," "La Grange" and "Tush."
Check out fan filmed videos from the performance below. ZZ Top is scheduled to continue touring into 2022.