The collection of DUSTY HILL of ZZ TOP to be auctioned
Julien’s Auctions proudly presents “The Collection Of Dusty Hill Of ZZ Top”, a three-day auction event honoring the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame bass legend of one of the best-selling acts and biggest touring bands of all time, who sold over 50 million albums worldwide. The year-end single artist event culminating Julien’s 20th-anniversary celebration will take place on Thursday, December 7, Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9, 2023 live at the legendary musician and vocalist’s birthplace of Dallas, Texas at the auction venue 915 Slocum and online at Julien’s Live.
The auction will feature nearly 1,200 lots showcasing the rock icon’s spectacular one-of-a-kind instruments, custom made western style wardrobe worn on stage and in appearances, gear, creative documents, signature style items such as his favorite cowboy hats, boots and buckles, memorabilia and more from his groundbreaking five-decade career coming directly from Dusty Hill‘s personal collection. A portion of the auction proceeds will benefit MusiCares and their mission to help the humans behind music because music gives so much to the world. Offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs, MusiCares is a safety net supporting the health and welfare of the music community.
From ZZ TOP‘s auspicious beginnings in the early 1970s to their breakthrough superstardom and era defining MTV videos in the 1980s and massively successful tours in the 20th to 21st century playing in sold out arenas all over the world, founding member, bassist, vocalist and keyboard player Dusty Hill powered the trio to the rock and roll greatness and pop cultural strata that put the Texas blues rock sound on the map.
Born May 19, 1949 in Dallas, Texas, Joe Michael “Dusty” Hill began singing with his older brother Rocky at the age of 8 and grew up listening to the blues. He switched from playing cello to bass at the age of 13 playing in local bars with various Dallas bands until 1968 when Hill relocated to Houston. There he teamed up with his former bandmate/drummer Frank Beard and guitarist-vocalist Billy Gibbons and the legendary line-up of ZZ TOP was born. In 1971, the band released their debut, “ZZ Top’s First Album” and follow up albums “Rio Grande Mud” and “Tres Hombres”, which produced their first big hit single “La Grange” and led to their opening act gig for THE ROLLING STONES in Hawaii. Hill sang lead vocal on ZZ TOP‘s 1975 hit single “Tush” as well as on the singles “Pan Am Highway Blues”, “Avalon Hideaway” and “Ten Dollar Man” on their 1976 album “Tejas” as well as on the duet “It’s Only Love” with Gibbons. In the late ’70s, Hill changed his look by growing matching long beards and wearing sunglasses and hats with Gibbons and the styling trio topped the charts with their hit single “Cheap Sunglasses” from their 1979 “Degüello” album. But it was 1983’s “Eliminator” that catapulted ZZ TOP into superstardom with the album’s trifecta of monster hits “Sharp Dressed Man”, “Gimme All Your Lovin'” and “Legs”. The songs dominated the airwaves and television screens with their accompanying iconic music videos featuring ZZ TOP‘s signature ZZ keychain, video vixens and the red Eliminator Coupe hot rod that captured the MTV generation and cemented Hill and his bandmates as pop culture icons. The RIAA-diamond-certified album sold over 10 million copies and stayed on the Billboard charts for 183 weeks and the songs continue to play in heavy rotation on classic rock radio stations to this day. In their videos and onstage, Hill and Gibbons‘s matching appearances, playing sensational custom-made guitars that would spin, along with their humorous song lyrics and hard driving live performances charged by Hill‘s raw bass lines and the band’s New Wave flavor with Hill on synthesizer keyboards, became the trio’s trademark look, sound and personality that would distinguish them from other rock and roll acts then and now.
During Hill‘s remarkable 50-year career playing solely with ZZ TOP‘s original band members, the trio released 15 studio albums, including 1985’s “Afterburner” that went platinum five times over and the platinum 1990 album “Recycler” and platinum 1994 album “Antenna”. Hill has appeared in the films “Back To The Future Part III” and “Mother Goose Rock ‘N’ Rhyme” and has played himself on TV’s “King Of The Hill” and “The Drew Carey Show”. Hill was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with ZZ TOP in 2004.
The headlining item of the auction will be one of the most instantly recognizable instruments in pop culture history: Hill‘s fur bass guitar played on ZZ TOP‘s iconic “Legs” music video (estimate: $80,000 – $120,000). The 1983 Dean Explorer style bass, in sheepskin finish with ZZ TOP logo painted on the fretboard, was attached to a rig worn around Hill‘s waist to make it spin. Dean Zelinsky of Dean Guitars, who created the instruments, wrote about them on his web site’s blog stating that he received a 3 a.m. phone call from Billy Gibbons while ZZ TOP was on tour in the U.K. At the very end of their conversation, Billy said to Zelinsky, “I’m sending you some sheepskins I purchased while in Scotland, I want you to put them on some guitars.” Weeks later, the sheepskins were delivered and Zelinsky made a matching pair of Dean Z guitar and bass, painted them white including the fingerboards with the “Eliminator” album logo down the necks and applied the sheepskins. “I remember we were still gluing the fur on the tuning keys when the FedEx driver showed up to pick up the guitars,” said Zelinsky. “He waited while we boxed them up, they had to make it to the video shoot the very next day.”
Another incredible offering is Hill‘s signature 1953 Fender Precision bass guitar, and most played instrument by Hill out of all the guitars in this collection (estimate: $80,000 – $120,000). The bass was heavily used by Hill and served as his go to stage guitar for numerous ZZ TOP live performances and in the studio until Dusty retired the bass in 2012 due to road wear. This instrument in butterscotch finish with black pickguard in all original 7/10 condition, appeared on the cover of ZZ TOP‘s 1975 album “Fandango!” and comes in its period tweed case with a great deal of wear and an assortment of stickers.
An MTV Moonman award statuette presented to Dusty Hill for “Best Group Video” “Legs” at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards ceremony held in 1984 ($10,000 – $15,000). ZZ TOP were the first group to ever win “Best Group Video” whose fellow nominees included THE POLICE‘s “Every Breath You Take”, VAN HALEN‘s “Jump” and HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS‘ “The HeartOf Rock & Roll”.
Dusty Hill‘s bald eagle jacket by Manuel with talons and feather accents down sleeves, accented with prong-set stones, with personalized “Dusty Hill” Manuel label ($6,000 – $8,000). Dusty was photographed in the 1980s wearing this masterwork by Manuel, who worked in Hollywood with Nudie Cohn, of Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, before relocating to Nashville.
Dusty Hill‘s black leather motorcycle jacket with custom-painted skeleton motif, eagle head pins on lapel, and silver spike embellishments with “Streek Landslide” written on the back, Dusty was photographed wearing the jacket while on tour in 1994 ($1,500 – $2,500).
Dusty Hill‘s Matt Hackett belt buckle with silver Texas lone star accents and Mexican dos pesos coin on a Justin Boots brown tooled leather belt ($2,000 – $3,000).
A black snap front western style shirt custom made by Manuel with personalized Dusty Hill label and extensive ZZ TOP-themed embroidery, flames and crystal embellishments are also another showstopping highlight ($1,500 – $2,500).
Dusty Hill‘s stage worn limited edition pair Manuel black and white leather cowboy boots in soft travel case. It is difficult to find a photograph of Dusty on stage from 2007 through 2021 where he is not wearing these boots as they were his go-to footwear for performances for over a decade and they were on the road with him, on his last tour ($2,000 – $3,000).
Dusty Hill‘s favorite Stetson cowboy hat stage worn and used in the “I Gotsta Get Paid” music video and countless performances ($3,000 – $5,000). Dusty began wearing this Stetson, grey aged beaver hat, with braided horsehair hat band with tassels, in 2010 until his very last show in 2021. Although Hill had cycled through different looks and hats from tour to tour, this hat became an instant favorite. When it was stolen on the road, Hill made an on-air appeal at a local radio station and was able to recover it as it had become his most instantly recognizable performance hat.
Hill‘s custom sky-blue wool suit jacket with yellow and red embroidered flowers accented with stones by Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors worn on the cover of ZZ TOP‘s 1975 album “Fandango!” ($6,000 – $8,000).
Dusty Hill‘s 2000s Bolin Precision style bass, in blonde relic finish with Dusty caricature, lavender and green pinstriping on the body, fretboard and headstock ($8,000 – $12,000). The bass was used during ZZ TOP‘s 2007 live performance in Grand Prairie Texas that was released on their 2008 “Live From Texas” DVD and on tour in 2016.
Dusty Hill‘s commissioned oil derrick gold nugget ring accented with four circular-cut diamonds ($2,000 – $3,000). As told by his wife Charleen “Chuck” Hill once invested in an oil prospecting scheme which he later referred to as his investment in a dry dirt hole because you guessed it…no oil was found. He commissioned this ring to serve as a reminder to himself to never again try his hand at prospecting and to stick to what he did best, making music.
Dusty Hill‘s commissioned Richard Luce original oil painting titled “The Alamo – The Cost Of Freedom” ($5,000 – $7,000) displayed in The Alamo Gift Museum in 2004. The painting is accompanied by mounted Texas longhorn steer horns that Hill kept hanging above this painting.
Dusty Hill‘s Edward H. Bohlin sterling silver and gold buckle featuring a hand-engraved classic Western scroll pattern ($1,000 – $1,500).
Plus, Hill‘s pink tinted prescription Christian Dior sunglasses, customized .44 magnum Colt Anaconda double action revolvers, “Eliminator”-era jumpsuit, jewelry, stage-worn jackets by Jaime Custom Tailoring, and more.
“Duzzty’s Stash” pop store will also be at the exhibition and auction venue 915 Slocum Street in Dallas which will offer T-shirts, posters and other memorabilia that Hill collected personally.
“Chuck” Hill, Dusty Hill‘s wife, said: “Dusty treasured all of the items in this auction and it means so much to me that the fans, whom he loved, will have an opportunity to own something from his personal collection. He would be so happy to know that this auction will benefit other musicians in need through the efforts of MusiCares.”.
“Dusty Hill was ZZ TOP‘s lightning in a bottle that made them one of the greatest and most iconic American rock/blues bands of all time,” said Martin Nolan, executive director and co-founder of Julien’s Auctions. “Here are his most famous and legendary guitars that produced his masterful bass lines and the most memorable riffs ever played in the history of rock from ZZ TOP‘s ‘Legs’ to ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, as well as Dusty‘s instantly recognizable wardrobe and style pieces that demonstrated why he was not only the King of the Bass but the King of Texas style.”
Fans will have a chance to view highlights from “The Collection Of Dusty Hill” at Julien’s international exhibitions starting October 24 at the Museum Of Style Icons at the Newbridge Silverware Visitor’s Centre in Kildare, Ireland then at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square New York November 20-November 26 before the auction at 915 Slocum Street in Dallas, Texas November 29-December 7.
Julien’s Auctions live and online auctions:
The Collection Of Dusty Hill Of ZZ TOP
Thursday, December 7
Session I: 7:00 p.m. Central Time (evening)
The Collection Of Dusty Hill Of ZZ TOP
Friday, December 8
Session II: 10:00 a.m. Central Time (day)
The Collection Of Dusty Hill Of ZZ TOP
Saturday, December 9
Session III: 10:00 a.m. Central Time (day)
For more information, visit JuliensAuctions.com
ZZ TOP played without Hill prior to his passing at the Village Commons in New Lenox, Illinois after he was forced to return to Texas to address a hip issue. Filling in for him at the gig was longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis.
On July 21, ZZ TOP canceled its concert in Evansville, Indiana because of a “health issue within the band,” according to local news outlet Evansville Courier & Press.
SiriusXM radio personality Eddie Trunk shared a message he received from ZZ TOP frontman Billy Gibbons about the group’s future plans.
Trunk tweeted: “Received this just now via text from @BillyFGibbons regarding passing of Dusty Hill @ZZTop . Billy told me okay to share w/fans: 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.”