ZZ Top at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheater, 5 things to know – Macomb Daily


Rare is the group that can go through 51 years – including 15 studio albums – without a line-up change.

But it was ZZ Top. Until last year.

When Joe “Dusty” Hill, the Texas trio’s bassist since 1970, died on July 28 in Houston at the age of 72, it ended one of the longest careers of any band in the band. rock ‘n’ roll history. During this time, the band sold over 50 million albums worldwide, had multi-platinum hits with 1983’s “Eliminator” and 1985’s “Afterburner” and were a staple on rock radio and MTV with hits such as ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Well Dressed Man’ and ‘The Barn’.

ZZ Top is still alive, meanwhile, at Hill’s insistence and with his hand-picked successor, crew tech Elwood Francis, in his place. The band will remember Hill later this month with “Raw,” a collection of favorites he recorded on stage while filming the 2019 documentary, “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” and singer-guitarist Billy F. Gibbons says the band plans to keep rocking their cheap sunglasses for years to come…

  • Gibbons, 72, says over the phone that he and drummer Frank Beard are adjusting to their new normal without Hill. “I have to credit Dusty; not only was he a talented performer, but he was a great friend with wit and wisdom. He said, ‘Look, I’m a little uneasy. With your permission, I’d like to see my doctor, and if I’m home late, make sure our longtime associate, Mr. Elwood Francis, puts his hands around my guitar. I said, ‘If that’s the wish, so be it.’ (François accepted the challenge, and he didn’t miss a note.”
  • Francis had, in fact, worked with the group for decades, though Gibbons notes that the new Top underwent a small facial makeover during that time. “He was the clean-shaven avocado sandwich skater guitar tech. He ended up following in the exact footsteps of what people call ZZ Top, when years and years ago we got lazy and threw the razor away. And during our recent inability to travel beyond the end of your sidewalk, so did Elwood. I didn’t know the guy had mustaches, but here he is with a doormat longer than mine hanging from his chin.
  • In terms of playing, Gibbons says Francis “mastered a sound that established ZZ Top as who he is”, even though he plays differently from Hill. “Dusty was playing with his fingers, Elwood is playing with a pick. To Elwood’s credit, he did an intrinsic study of the sound that dialed in what people perceive as the familiar ZZ Top and then brought a burst of freshness that actually raised the bar. It’s his dedication to keeping Dusty, emotionally, part of how we do this.
  • The ‘Raw’ album, which will be released on July 22, includes new versions of ‘La Grange’, ‘Tush’, Gimme All Your Lovin’, ‘Heard It on the X’ and others recorded at the historic Gruene Hall, a honky tonk from Texas, as part of the documentary. “The director, Sam Dunn, called me one afternoon and said, ‘By the way, I’d like to take…a picture of you three. Perhaps you will be able to find a suitable setting for your debut. However, when we walked into this rather famous honky tonk, we saw our entire scene of gear plugged in, lit up and ready to fire. I said, ‘I thought it was supposed to be a snapshot’ and (the camera crew) said, ‘Yeah, the wires crossed and your techs thought it was a show.’ So, to our delight, as the cameras were set up we started playing just to fill the time, unaware that the sound engineers were recording it to tape. About six or eight months ago, our two sound engineers said, “What do you want us to do with these tapes? I said, ‘God, we better listen,’ and we kind of liked what we heard. It’s about as realistic as you’ll find a capture of ZZ Top in its earliest form. I think the title, “Raw”, is quite appropriate. »
  • Gibbons says he’s confident new material from ZZ Top is on the horizon as well. “There are quite a few things that need to be completed, which is really an interesting notion when you bring newcomer Elwood Francis into the picture. It goes back to when we were doing ‘La Futura’ , which is now 10 years old in the rearview mirror. That release featured 10 tracks out of a total of 30… there’s so much going on. And Elwood was right there with us. So Elwood is picking up the sticks where they left off. I have can’t wait to get in, and I think it’s going to be a breath of fresh air to see how it keeps us going.

ZZ Top performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2 at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre, 14900 Metro Parkway, Sterling Heights. 313-471-7000 or 313Presents.com.


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