ZZ Top officially returned to the stage following Dusty Hill's recent passing. On Friday night, the band took to the stage at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to perform some of their greatest hits. Elwood Francis filled in for Hill for the set. ZZ Top singer Billy Gibbons previously shared that he received a "direct directive" from Hill in which the late musician called for Francis to replace him on stage.
During the first show that ZZ Top played since Hill's death, Gibbons shared some messages with the crowd. He first told fans that they were going to have a "great" time tonight. The singer then opened up about the directive that he received from Hill noting that Francis would take his place in the band (Francis had been filling in for Hill in the weeks prior to his passing). Gibbons' message was met with a ton of cheers with fans rooting on Francis. ZZ Top's performance took place two days after it was reported that Hill passed away.
On Wednesday, Gibbons and fellow bandmate Frank Beard confirmed that Hill died. They shared the news on social media, noting that Hill died in his sleep at his home in Houston, Texas. The band shared, "We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the 'Top.' We will forever be connected to that 'Blues Shuffle in C.' You will be missed greatly, amigo."
In a recent interview with Variety, Gibbons reflected on the fact that Hill encouraged ZZ Top to tap Francis as his replacement. Francis has reportedly been the guitar tech for the band for over 20 years, per Tuscaloosa News. "It was a direct directive from Mr. Dusty Hill," Gibbons recounted to the publication. "When he grabbed my arm and said, 'I think I'm due to go visit the physician to see if I can bounce back,' he said, 'In the meantime, I want you to grab our guitar technician, Mr. Elwood and take him out of that tech station and strap him up with my guitar and make him carry on with every single note.' And I said, 'Well, if that's your wishes, I'll respect that.' And sure enough, we've been very, very fortunate to have a stalwart standby to fill in."