Elwood Francis Reflects on Replacing Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

In July 2021, ZZ Top’s longtime bassist Dusty Hill passed away at the age of 72. As per Hill’s wishes, his place was taken by the band’s guitar tech, Elwood Francis. Despite stepping into this important role, Francis still seems uncomfortable about his place in the band.

Elwood Francis Reflects on Replacing Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

Elwood Francis, who had been ZZ Top’s guitar tech for years, not only wanted to play the correct parts but also to maintain the legacy Dusty Hill left behind. Hill was a mainstay in the band for more than 51 years, along with vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard.

Billy Gibbons recalled Hill’s emphatic wish, saying, 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.

Elwood Francis Reflects on Replacing Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

A Neil Alternative Approach

Known for their unique style, the band’s latest twist saw Francis taking to the stage with a crazy 17-string bass guitar. Reflecting on how he discovered the instrument, Francis noted, I was doing night internet searching [and] turned up a picture of this crazy 17 string bass. I sent a picture to Billy and we laughed about it and made some jokes about actually trying to use it.

Elwood Francis Reflects on Replacing Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

The audience got a glimpse of this unusual instrument during their recent show in Huntsville, Alabama. During one song, ‘Got Me Under Pressure,’ Francis brought out the strikingly absurd bass guitar. On using it, Francis said, Well now… I thought I’d use this bass once or twice for no other reason than amusement. It’s such a strikingly absurd instrument… We’d all laugh and then move on to something else.

Blending Tradition with Uncharted Territory

Billy Gibbons believes in their new musical direction and noted This would be an interesting excursion into the unknown – particularly with Elwood holding down the bottom end… We find it rather intriguing. It’s a calling that has us grinning from start to finish.

Elwood Francis Reflects on Replacing Dusty Hill in ZZ Top

A Future With Fresh Perspectives

Looking ahead, ZZ Top fans might be treated to new music soon. Gibbons mentioned that they are intrigued by working with Francis, hinting at future releases that could surprise even their long-time followers.

Despite his reservations, Elwood Francis’s integration into ZZ Top marks a bittersweet yet promising chapter for the band’s continuing legacy.

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