Arzell Hill (September 30, 1935 – April 27, 1984), known as Z. Z. Hill American blues singer best known for his recordings in the 1970s and early 1980s, including his 1982 album for Malaco Records, Down Home, which stayed on the Billboard soul album chart for nearly two years.The track "Down Home Blues" has been called the best-known blues song of the 1980s. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Hill "devised a combination of blues and contemporary soul styling and helped to restore the blues to modern black consciousness."
Born in Naples, Texas, Hill began his singing career in the late 1950s as part of a gospel group called The Spiritual Five, touring Texas. He was influenced by Sam Cooke, B. B. King, and Bobby "Blue" Bland, and began performing his own songs and others in clubs in and around Dallas, including spells fronting bands led by Bo Thomas and Frank Shelton. He took his stage name in emulation of B. B. King.
Encouraged by Otis Redding who had seen him perform, he joined his older brother, budding record producer Matt Hill, in Los Angeles in 1963, and released his first single, "You Were Wrong", on the family's own M.H. label. It spent one week at no.100 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964, and Hill was quickly signed by Kent Records. Most of his records for Kent were written or co-written by Hill, and arranged by leading saxophonist Maxwell Davis. None charted, but in retrospect many, such as "I Need Someone (To Love Me)", are now viewed with high regard by soul fans.
After leaving Kent in 1968, he recorded briefly for Phil Walden's Macon, Georgia based Capricorn label, but after a disagreement with Walden his recording contract was bought by Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams' Mankind label, where Hill finally fulfilled his end of the deal. He returned to California to record for his brother's Hill label, and the song "Don't Make Me Pay For His Mistakes", co-produced by Matt Hill and Miles Grayson, became his biggest pop hit, reaching no.62 on the Hot 100. The Kent label reissued his 1964 recording of "I Need Someone", which also charted. Williams also recorded Hill in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 1971, resulting in several R&B hits including "Chokin' Kind" and "It Ain't No Use", as well as the LP The Brand New Z. Z. Hill.
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