It was 1983 and my friend Marcus and I were driving around Cumberland in his old 1970's International Scout (an early SUV). It didn't have a tape deck so we always had his big boom box on the seat between us. We played four new tapes OVER and OVER: "Synchronicity" by the Police, the "Eddie and the Cruisers" soundtrack by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot, and "Eliminator" by ZZ Top. They all came out in 83', the year we turned sixteen.
With hits like "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," and "Legs," plus groundbreaking videos featuring gorgeous girls and an awesome car, that Eliminator album earned a special place the hearts of a couple of red blooded American sixteen year olds. ZZ Top was the coolest. Sure, there were other cool rock stars in the 80's, but when you combined their look, their attitude, their sound and those videos, ZZ Top was unique with a capital U!
The car was actually owned by singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons. How cool is that? Not a prop... His actual 1933 Ford Coupe which he once reportedly drove across the country with one of the "Eliminator Girls" by his side. Back then we didn't really know which one was Billy and which one was Dusty. They both sported those long beards and played cool looking axes. Billy shredded on guitar. Dusty Hill was a master bass player who was know to own hundreds of basses.
I was sad to hear about Dusty's passing on Wednesday July 28th, 2021. He died in his sleep. The news took me back to a moment in time. Actually many moments: All those nights spent driving around listening to music, because in1983 that's what we did. Sixteen years old and inspired by rock and roll in a way that I don't think kids are inspired by music today. Music shaped our lives. We all lived for it and took every opportunity to get together and crank up our favorite tunes. Van Halen, Journey, The Who, AC/DC and of course, ZZ Top. Even today, you can't hear a song from "Eliminator" without feeling your heartbeat speed up and the lyrics come involuntarily out of your mouth at the top of your lungs ("I got to have a shot!...). A moment in time relived, thanks to songs created by our musical heroes.
Rest in peace, Dusty Hill. Thanks for the memories you helped create.
video: YouTube Photo: Getty Images