Dusty Hill, the bass player as well as one of the vocalists for blues-rock giant ZZ Top, died today at his Houston home. This brought an interesting memory to me. Around 2005, I took a cross-country trip with a friend to see a new house that he had bought in Fairhope, Alabama. Taking Interstate 10, the most direct route from my Long Beach, CA home, we passed into Texas in the early morning; and were still crossing the state by late afternoon.
By that time, we were hungry; and shortly passed into Flatonia, Texas (population, 1,408). I spied a place named Joel’s BBQ, a real Texas BBQ that had some great smoked brisket and Texas sausages. We pulled in, smelling the delicious smoke before we even got inside. Sure enough, there were some wooden bench tables and a small cabinet of sides. Plus, a 20 foot long smoker visible in the back, with the traditional Texas Star on it. Sure enough, the barbecue was the real deal. It was a nice break to the trip.
After dinner, we hit the road again. Wanting some music, we found a classic rock station on the radio. A few songs later, ZZ Top’s La Grange came on the radio. It had been one of my musical favorites for a long time. We turned it up and were enjoying the music when we approached the next freeway sign; for La Grange, Texas. It seemed appropriate that That Little Ol’ Band From Texas would accompany us as we passed by the town made famous by ZZ Top.
Over the years, ZZ Top played a lot of great music, and Dusty Hill anchored one of the best rhythm sections in music. Their music videos were one of the first played on MTV and their music helped define Texas blues. It is hard to find a band of that genre that doesn’t cover a ZZ Top tune. RIP, Dusty Hill.