Houston (AP) – Dusty Hill, one of the bearded members of rock band ZZ Top, has passed away.

“We are saddened by today’s news that our buddy Dusty Hill passed away in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas,” fellow cult band members Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard said on the site. ZZ Top. Hill was 72 years old. “With legions of ZZ fans all over the world, your steadfast presence, kindness and ongoing commitment will be missed,” he continued.

At first there was no further information on the cause of death. However, “Variety” magazine reported that Gibbons and Beard performed without Hill for the first time in the band’s half-century of history in recent weeks. As a result, Hill was officially absent for hip treatment and was replaced by Elwood Francis.

ZZ Top was founded in the summer of 1969 in Houston / Texas. For the 50th anniversary of the old blues rock masters in 2019, Hills and Gibbons’ long beards have long been the hallmark of cult musicians – as have the band’s signature guitar riffs. “Some people wear fake beards as a disguise, unfortunately we couldn’t,” Hill joked in an interview. “Everywhere I went, I immediately attracted a crowd.

The commercial breakthrough came in 1973 with “Tres Hombres”. The third studio album is now considered a classic. Gibbons, Hill and Beard released six albums in the 1970s alone. In Germany they gave a few appearances at that time, in the USA they completed the huge “World Wide Texas Tour” with nearly 100 concerts from 1976 to 1977.

The biggest turning point in their careers came in the 1980s, when Gibbons first experimented with what was then a brand new Fairlight synthesizer. After the first electronic experiments on the only moderately successful “El Loco” (1981), ZZ Top took a step forward two years later – but not everyone likes it.

They refreshed their rock sound with synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers, reinvented themselves and released in 1983 the powerful and thrilling “Eliminator”. Die-hard blues fans have accused the group of betrayal. But the sales figures prove them right. “Eliminator” is the most commercially successful album to date from the “Little Ol ‘Band From Texas” (the little old band from Texas).