Z.Z. Hill Biography

Arzel Hill, 30 September 1935, Naples, Texas, USA, d. 27 April 1984, Dallas, Texas, USA. A singer in the mould of Bobby Bland, Hill served his musical apprenticeship in Dallas lounge bars. He recorded for his brother Matt’s M.H. label before signing to Kent Records in 1964. A string of mature, sophisticated singles followed, including ‘Hey Little Girl’ (1965) and ‘I Found Love’ (1966). More ‘adult’ than contemporaries at the Stax Records label, such records struggled for acceptance outside the south and failed to reach the R&B chart. Although Hill left Kent in 1968, the label continued to release his material and three years later secured a Top 30 R&B hit with his 1964 recording, ‘I Need Someone (To Love Me)’. The artist enjoyed similar success with the engaging ‘Don’t Make Me Pay For His Mistakes’, which peaked at number 17 (US R&B). Other releases were less fortunate, but the singer’s work with Swamp Dogg improved the situation. Later spells with Hill/ United Artists Records and Columbia Records were marred by corporate indecision, although he enjoyed his biggest hit on the latter label in 1977 with ‘Love Is So Good When You’re Stealing It’. In 1981, Hill signed with Malaco Records, a company devoted to classic southern soul. His albums on the label, including Down Home, The Rhythm & The Blues and I’m A Blues Man, proved to be his most artistically satisfying and were also commercial successes. Hill died of a heart attack in April 1984.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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