Over a thousand items from the estate of the late, great ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill are headed to the auction block with main attraction being Hill’s iconic Dean Z bass guitar from the video to the Texan trio’s 1983 MTV breakout hit Legs.
Or, should that be ‘mane attraction’, because this four-string inaugurated the fur look for electric stage instruments, with Billy Gibbons rocking an Dean Z model electric guitar with a matching look too. It’s a look that only ZZ Top could pull off. Only they would dare.
Hill’s sheepskin-covered Dean bass is expected to fetch up to $120,000 at the event, hosted by Julien’s Auctions over three days, 7-9 December, in Hill’s hometown of Dallas, Texas. What that money buys you is something priceless, a piece of music history as the Eliminator era allied to the reach of MTV introduced ZZ Top to wider audience.
The bass itself is hard to miss, with or without the sheepskins. According to the lot description, Dean Zelinsky fielded a late night phone call from Gibbons, who placed the custom order. The pièce de résistance arrived almost almost as an afterthought. “I’m sending you some sheepskins I purchased while in Scotland, I want you to put them on some guitars,” said Gibbons.
Well, Zelinsky aimed to please, and spec’d up the matching custom bass and electric guitars and finished them in white, with the fingerboards in white with the Eliminator logo adding a go-faster flash on the ‘board. The bass has no serial number. According to Zelinsky, he used electric horse shears to make room for the pickups, bridge and strings.
“I remember we were still gluing the fur on the tuning keys when the FedEx driver showed up to pick up the guitars,” recalled Zelinsky. “He waited while we boxed them up, they had to make it to the video shoot the very next day.”
For some ZZ Top fans, there is an even more significant bass from Hill’s estate, and that’s his ‘50s Fender Precision Bass.
It is dated here as a 1953 P-Bass, though in an interview with Fender upon the release of his signature model, Hill couldn’t recall the exact year. He did recall sending Gibbons in to Rocky’s pawn store in Dallas to do his bidding, and that he did, with Gibbons managing to wrangle the bass that would be Hill’s number one instrument for years for the modest sum of $70, and that included a hard-shell case.
The case alone is a work of art. The bass? Well, it was on the cover of Fandango!, which makes it hard to beat.
And yet it has some competition. Another choice four-string is the Bolin P-type that Hill used extensively through the 2000s – famously on the Live From Texas 2008 DVD.
That is pictured above and at the top of the page and as per ZZ Top’s style in the 21st-century, fur was out, pin-striping was in, with lavender and green details on the top of this relic’d blonde finish that extends right up the fingerboard to the headstock. Other cool details include the Dusty Hill graphic just above the bridge.
To see more from The Collection of Dusty Hill, head over to Julien’s Auctions. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go to MusiCares.