ZZ Top returns to the stage for the first time following Dusty Hill’s passing

ZZ Top in 2015; Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Following the unexpected death of bassist Dusty Hill earlier last week, ZZ Top returned to the stage on Friday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Billboard reports that the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers honored their late band mate before getting into the thick of their performance.

Frontman Billy Gibbons introduced Elwood Francis — who has served as the band’s guitar tech for the past two decades — as Hill’s temporary replacement. Francis had previously filled in for the late bassist prior to his death.

“We’re gonna have a good time in here tonight,” promised Gibbons. “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.”

Mid-performance, Gibbons addressed the crowd again on behalf of Hill, shouting at the revelers, “How about that Elwood? Tearing up that bottom there for Dusty.”

Gibbons previously confirmed that Hill wanted the band to continue without him, according to tweets shared by rock radio personality Eddie Trunk.

“As Dusty said upon his departure, ‘Let the show go on!’ and…with respect, we’ll do well to get beyond this and honor his wishes,” a reported text from Gibbons said.

The 71-year-old singer/guitarist added, “Dusty emphatically grabbed my arm and said, ‘Give Elwood the bottom end and take it to the Top.’ He meant it, amigo. He really did.”

Last Wednesday, ZZ Top announced that Hill “passed away in his sleep at home in Houston” at age 72. No cause of death has yet been publicly revealed.

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