One of the guys from “that little ol’ band from Texas” is Lakewood’s own Dusty Hill.
ZZ Top started out playing all around Texas in the early ’70s and had nationwide hits later that decade. They became international rock ‘n’ roll stars in the early ’80s, largely because of their unforgettable music videos.
A documentary now streaming on Netflix, “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas” starts with Dusty Hill.
He and his brother, the late guitarist Rocky Hill, grew up in Lakewood and attended Woodrow Wilson High School. Here they are at the class of 1967’s 20-year reunion.
Dusty Hill says in the film that he’s been an Elvis fanatic all his life, and rock ‘n’ roll inspired him from an early age. He describes growing up in East Dallas:
I can remember walking down the street where I lived in Dallas, and I was singing because I didn’t want to really look at the surroundings, and I didn’t want to smell the air, and I didn’t want to hear what was going on, so I would sing.
But you had to know how to work your way around the neighborhood. You did and didn’t do certain things. So you don’t walk around singing or dancing. You’re liable to limp out. But playing in a rock band gives you instant cred.
The Hill brothers started Lady Wilde and the Warlocks in 1964, when Dusty was 16. The singer, “Lady Wilde,” was from England. In Beatles-crazed Dallas, that was huge.
“In 1964, in Dallas, if you had someone from England in your band, that was it. You got bookings,” Hill says in the film.
Dusty and Rocky later had The American Blues, for which they recruited future ZZ Top drummer, 15-year-old Frank Beard, who grew up in Irving. For that band, they dyed their hair blue, years before punk rock.
The American Blues eventually outgrew the Dallas market. They played everywhere and hit a ceiling with local success.
Rocky Hill went off to play in the bands behind blues musicians John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Freddie King and Jimmy Reed.
Dusty Hill and Frank Beard hooked up with Billy Gibbons, who had a psychedelic band in Houston called The Moving Sidewalks. The three formed ZZ Top in about 1969. The band still tours and writes new songs together. After 50 years, they’re the longest-running rock ‘n’ roll lineup in history, according to the movie.
The documentary runs about an hour and a half. Just their stories from touring and recording, accompanied by animation, in the style of Vice’s “Party Legends,” make the film worth your time.
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