American Blues: Dallas-Born Rocky Hill, Dusty's Older Brother, Died on Friday
A longtime music publicist pal sends the sad news: Dallas-born Rocky Hill -- Dusty's big brother and one hellacious blues guitarist forever proud of his self-proclaimed rep as "The Anti-Clapton" -- died on Friday, with few details other than that available at present. All I've found online is his obituary on the Sulphur Springs-based Murray Orwosky Funeral Home Web site, where Hill's funeral will take place tomorrow at 1 p.m. before a graveside service at the Como Cemetery in Hopkins County. Hill was 62 and, says the obit, living in Kemah, just north of Galveston.
Longtime locals -- which is to say, those hanging out at the Cellar in the late 1960s -- no doubt recall the two seminal bands in which Rocky, like Dusty a Woodrow Wilson Wildcat, played guitar while his little bro played bass: The Warlocks and then American Blues, the latter of which released two albums in '67 and '68 and which featured future ZZ Topper Frank Beard on drums. (The band's debut, American Blues is Here, was re-released on CD in 2002.) But American Blues eventually left Dallas for Houston: "Dallas was too trendy," Rocky told our sister paper, the Houston Press, in 2002. "All they wanted from a band was to be a jukebox. We wanted to play original music." But shortly after the relocation, he ditched American Blues because he wanted to play straight blues, while Dusty wanted to go rock -- which is how they wound up replacing Rocky with the Moving Sidewalks' Billy Gibbons while Rocky went on to back legends and young comers, among 'em Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Rocky released a few albums, including 1982's Texas Shuffle (reissued in 2005 and featuring the likes of Johnny Winter and Dr. John) and 1988's self-titled record on Virgin, but instead became the very definition of hard-drinkin' journeyman bluesman. As he told the Press in '02, though, he was newly sober and ready to play: "I'm just gonna try to play the goddamn thing. When I pick up a guitar, it's me against it. I still sound like Rocky Hill -- the anti-Clapton."
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