In April of 2007, ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill had his famous beard cut off by a man who saved his life.
That’s how the scene played out on King of the Hill, the animated series which aired on Fox from 1997-2010. In the episode titled “Hank Gets Dusted,” the show’s lead character — Hank Hill — wrestles with the wild antics of his rock ‘n’ roll cousin, Dusty. The rocker provided the voice for his cartoon persona, an experience he’d later rank among his career highlights.
In the climactic scene, Dusty enters Hank’s beloved Cadillac in a demolition derby, only to get in a little over his head. The car gets smashed, bursting into flames. When the rocker tries to undo his seatbelt and escape, he realizes his long beard is jammed in the buckle. The trapped musician is freed by Hank’s heroics, but loses much of his iconic facial hair in the process.
Even in the scripted, artificial, animated world of King of the Hill, getting the ZZ Top rocker to cut his beard was a challenge.
“When my character was trapped inside the demolition derby car, they said they’d have to snip his beard to get him out of the seatbelt,” Dusty explains to UCR. “I so identified with my animated self that I protested. ‘You can’t snip his beard!’” Upon further thought, the bassist eventually relented. “I realized it was a cartoon and they could just draw his (my) beard back. I really bought into it!”
The fact that Dusty took his facial hair so seriously should come as no surprise to ZZ Top fans. The dual beards belonging to he and frontman Billy Gibbons have become synonymous with the group.
As the legend goes, both men showed up to a 1979 band meeting having grown beards during a two-year hiatus. Since then, ZZ Top and their iconic facial hair have been inseparable — though that hasn’t stopped others from trying. Most notably, the Gillette razor company offered the band $1 million in 1984 to shave their famous beards.
“No dice,” Gibbons declared, explaining the decision in a 2012 conversation with Bravewords. “The prospect of seeing oneself in the mirror clean-shaven is too close to a Vincent Price film… a prospect not to be contemplated, no matter the compensation.”
In that way, King of the Hill was able to accomplish what a million dollars could not — even if the beard trim was just in cartoon form.
In the episode’s final moments, Dusty apologizes for ruining the Cadillac and putting both he and Hank at risk. “I’m sorry about the car,” the rocker admits. “Yeah, well, I’m sorry about the beard,” the propane salesman replies. “Oh, she’ll grow back,” Dusty responds, earning a well deserved question from Hank: “Your beard’s a girl?”