ZZ Top Reveal Dusty Hill’s Replacement, New Music On the Way

by Samantha Whidden

Less than a year after the passing of Dusty Hill, ZZ Top announced the late music icon’s replacement as well as plans to release new music. 

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, longtime guitar technician Elwood Francis will be stepping as Hill’s replacement for ZZ Top. It was revealed that Hill instructed Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard to continue with Francis.

While speaking about Francis, ZZ Top’s Gibbons stated that Hill was not only a great performer and friend, he also had a “thread” of wisdom. “When he was feeling a bit out of sorts, he requested going to see his physician. He said, ‘Listen, if I’m late getting back to the gig, make sure that Elwood, our guitar technician, wraps his hands around my guitar.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘Look, he’s more than a family member. He’s been a solid standby for over three decades.’”

Gibbons also said that Francis is adding to five decades of a “rather serious side” of making loud sounds. “He falls right in. It’s kind of an interesting twist, but the balance remains. We’re crazy characters, almost cartoon-like, but at the bottom of it, we’re all very dedicated and serious on the musical level.”

Gibbons further recalled Francis’ first shows as a member of ZZ Top. “The emotions were running high. To Elwood’s credit, he made certain that Dusty was in an ethereal sense still present during the experience. Elwood grabbed Dusty’s hat and placed it on the microphone and made sure that there was a point of relation through the whole night. You know, I think he took it in stride. He certainly accepted Dusty’s directive. It was, ‘Hey Elwood, grab the guitar.’ He said, ‘Okay, listen, I’m the hired gun. If that’s the direction, I gotta take it.’”

ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Talks Plans to Release New Music 

Meanwhile, Billy Gibbons spoke about how ZZ Top is planning to release new music in the future. “We’ve got the makings of a band that is partially the tried-and-true longstanding experience with something so fresh,” Gibbons explained. “And [there’s] kind of uncharted territory that’s being broken.” 

Despite this change, Gibbons said that the long-running band is ready for any new challenges. “We find it rather intriguing. It’s a calling that has us grinning from start to finish.”

Along with talking about new music, Gibbons also talked about doing some shows with Willie Nelson this summer. When asked about his favorite Willie Nelson memory, Gibbons spoke about teaming up with the music legend on New Year’s in Austin, Texas.

Nelson said he wanted to do something different. So he went with “Milk Cow Blues” in the key of C. Gibbons added, “I said, ‘Sure ‘nuff, I’ll be ready.’ And the ball began to drop and when the new year rolled in, Willie stepped up to the microphone and started in with, ‘Whiskey river take my mind …’ in the key of E, mind you!”