We all eventually reach a point in life where life begins taking away more than it gives. While this may seem like a negative view of life, it’s intended to be a realistic one. It’s inevitable. As we walk through life, all the people, things and in some cases, the places we grew up knowing are simply no longer there. What rings true the most for me, and where this applies heavily, is with the influences I had in my youth.
When I take the time to look back, a number of influences were gone before I genuinely had the chance to know them, prior to adulthood. Bruce Lee is a good example. Despite being one of the most prominent influences on me as it relates to my martial arts journey, he actually died five years before I was even born. This didn’t prevent “Enter the Dragon” from being one of my favourite movies and encourage my entry into the martial arts. But the influence I’m mostly referring to in today’s post, is music.
Music holds a special place in my heart. I’m one of those people who are heavily influenced by music. A jaunty, upbeat song can quickly turn my bad mood into having me awkwardly shake my dad bod around the kitchen, much to my wife and children’s amusement. By the same token, certain sad songs that relate to situations in my life can almost move me to tears. I’ve learned to play certain instruments, although I never delved into them heavily, and I even had a brief foray into singing, having provided the vocals for a small band during my college days.
One of my favourite memories from my childhood, is going on road trips with my father. He kept a heavy, D-cell “ghetto blaster” tape player wedged between the two front seats, since our family car (a Chevette, in case you were wondering) didn’t have a tape deck. Despite the fact we were mostly travelling to Montreal to join my brother and mother at the children’s hospital, it was always a fun, 8 to 10-hour drive filled with all the classic rock you can imagine. And as you may have guess from today’s title, one of those bands was ZZ Top…
ZZ Top was formed in 1969 and is an iconic rock band responsible for some of my favourite songs including but not limited to, “Legs,” “Sharp-dressed man” and “Can’t Stop Rockin’.” Although somewhat older, their sound and genre totally stands up, even by today’s standard and their songs have been covered and sampled more times than I can remember. Last Wednesday, I read that ZZ Top’s bassist, Dusty Hill, passed away at the age of 72.
Recent years have taken a number of prominent artists from us. Some of them have left a measurable void, including David Bowery and Eddie Van Halen. EDDIE VAN HALEN!!!! In 2015, when Mitch Malloy released a song he did with Van Halen in 1996, I was thinking we may see some new music come out. But then Van Halen passed away in 2020, punching those hopes. Right in the feels.
Such is the way of life. It gives, then it takes away. With the loss of their bassist, ZZ Top may choose to find a replacement and continue on. For their own sake, I hope they do. But for me, ZZ Top was about more than just the quality of music they provided. It was about the performance itself, which always had a special little something when you consider Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill with their matching beards, glasses and hats and Frank Beard ironically being the only one NOT sporting a beard…. They were even fantastic playing in Back to the Future III. Don’t remember that? ZZ Top was the band that played at the town dance that Marty and Doc attend. True story, go check it out.
You can read a short news article on Dusty Hill’s passing here. With the passing of yet another great musical influence from my youth, I’m sombrely reminded of my own mortality. Such is life. But the memories and the music will continue on. ☯️