Dusty Hill. (photo courtesy of JMRImages/Delaware County Fair)

Dusty Hill, the bearded bassist from ZZ Top who died this week, made one of his last public appearances in Manchester, Iowa.

“Our hearts just go out to the family and the bandmates and the crew,” said Delaware County Fair Board president Kurt Palmer. “To have him be able to be playing on our stage just a couple of weeks ago, it is mind-blowing a little bit and it is hard to kind of grasp that.”

The July 16 concert at the Delaware County Fair was the first stop in the band’s latest tour. Hill died in his sleep Wednesday at the age of 72, just days after he took a leave of absence from the band due to a hip issue.

Delaware County Fair Manager Jeannie Domeyer said a survey of fairgoers a couple of years ago found the legendary band was one of the top acts people locally wanted to see “and so when we told the world we were going to make it happen, there was just a big air of excitement about it.”

Nearly 5,000 fans were there for ZZ Top’s performance in Manchester.

“It was actually the first concert that they had done since they had been shut down during the pandemic and so they were excited to get back on the stage. We worked with management quite heavily because they were working through things that you have to work through when you haven’t been on the road in a really long time and so I’m just really grateful that we worked so well together and that hopefully he just had a great experience here being back on the road again.”

The fair board’s president said the grandstand was packed and the parking lots were overflowing.

“We had three months to sell tickets and that was a little bit of concern possibly right at the beginning (with) a shorter amount of window space,” Palmer said, “but man, the community really wanted to see this band.”

Like Domeyer, Palmer said the band was great to work with.

“They’re a band that’s been doing it for 50 years and most of their crew members have been with them for 30+ years,” Palmer said. “They always just kept on telling us: ‘Hey, we’re here for you guys to just put on a show. you tell us what you want.'”

Drummer Frank Beard, lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, and Hill formed ZZ Top in 1969 in Houston. Their 1983 album “Eliminator” sold more than 10 million copies. It included the hit “Sharp Dressed Man” which was used 30 years later as the theme song for the “Duck Dynasty” TV series.

(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)