Joseph Michael “Dusty” Hill is the bassist, keyboardist, and co-vocalist with the American rock group ZZ Top.
Hill was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in the Lakewood neighborhood of East Dallas. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School (Dallas) where he played the cello.
Along with his brother Rocky Hill and future fellow ZZ Top member Frank Beard, Dusty Hill played in local Dallas bands the Warlocks, the Cellar Dwellers, and American Blues. From 1966 to 1968, American Blues played the Dallas-Fort Worth-Houston circuit. In 1969, Hill was a member of a fake version of the British band The Zombies with Beard.
In 1968, the band decided to leave the Dallas–Fort Worth area and relocate to Houston. At this time, however, guitarist Rocky Hill wanted to focus on “straight blues”, while Dusty wanted the band to rock more. Rocky left the band and Dusty and Beard moved to Houston, joining guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons of Houston psychedelic-rockers Moving Sidewalks in the recently formed ZZ Top just after they released their first single in 1969.
Dusty Hill’s on-screen appearances include Back to the Future Part III, Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme, WWE Raw and Deadwood, and as himself in the 11th-season episode of King of the Hill, “Hank Gets Dusted”, in which Hank Hill is said to be Dusty’s cousin. He also made an appearance on The Drew Carey Show as himself auditioning for a spot in Drew’s band, but is rejected because of his attachment to his trademark beard which he refers to as a ‘Texas Goatee’.
Preferring the Fender bass-guitar, Dusty Hill also uses many different basses and amplifiers in different combos, and maintains a large collection of vintage as well as custom basses by noted luthier, John Bolin of Bolin Guitars USA. Hill is noted for designing simple, uncomplicated basses with a single pickup with a single volume knob, with the sometime rare addition including a specially powered knob for tone control.
- Vintage Fender Telecaster Bass – Only used during recordings.
- Fender Precision Bass
- Custom Fender Telecaster Bass – Fitted with custom wound DiMarzio pickups.
- Custom reversed Telecaster Bass
- Custom Telecaster Bass – With reversed headstock.
- Dean (Gibson Explorer-style) custom bass – Covered in white sheep wool, with spinning unit.
- Custom reversed Precision Bass
- Bolin Guitars custom – White hollowbody bass.
- Dean Z
- Danelectro Longhorn Bass (Used in-studio on all of ZZ Top’s First Album)
- Customized Fender Jazz Bass
- 21 Ball Hamiltone (only one made – designed and created by Jim Hamilton)
- Three Marshall JCM900 100 watt heads
- Six Custom Creme cabinets – With 4×12″ Celestion speakers.
- SansAmp Bass DI
- Two Groove Tubes Speaker Emulators
- Two Peavey Autograph II EQ’s