Vince Gill - Biography
By J Poet
Vince Gill worked for 15 years to become an overnight success, playing and singing almost every kind of country music along the way from bluegrass to Nashville pop. Along the way he’s won 19 Grammys, more than any other male Country music artist, taken home a handful of gold and platinum albums and sold almost 40 million albums.
Vince Gill has been playing music almost as long as he’s been alive. Born in Norman, OK in 1957, Gill taught himself play guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, Dobro and fiddle and was performing in Mountain Smoke, a bluegrass band with a strong local following while still in high school. After high school he moved to Louisville to play in Ricky Skaggs’s Boone Creek band, then on to LA to join Byron Berline’s progressive bluegrass outfit Sundance. He was spotted by the country rock band Pure Prairie League and became their lead singer and made three albums with the band – Can’t Hold Back (1979 RCA), Firin’Up (1980 Casablanca, 2006 Mercury) and Something in the Night (1981 Casablanca, 1994 Polygram.) In 1981, Rodney Crowell hired him for his backing band The Cherry Bombs.
In 1982 Gill moved to Nashville with his wife, Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo, to start a solo career. He signed with RCA and began his slow climb to the top. The Turn Me Loose (1983 RCA) EP included his first solo hit “Victim of Life’s Circumstances,” The Things That Matter (1984 RCA) spawned two Top 10 hits “If It Weren’t For Him” with Rosanne Cash and “Oklahoma Borderline.” His first Top 5 single “Cinderella,” opened his third album The Way Back Home (1987 RCA.) Gill toured as a solo artist but also stayed busy as a session man doing harmony vocals and playing guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, Dobro and fiddle. He briefly joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band.
Tony Brown signed Gill to MCA in 1989 and produced his platinum breakthrough When I Call Your Name (1989 MCA). The album featured “Oklahoma Swing,” a duet with Reba McEntire, and the title track, which earn Gill and his first Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Mark Knopfler asked Gill to join Dire Straits, but he declined and cut the platinum Pocket Full of Gold (1990 MCA) which contained four Top 10s - “Liza Jane,” “Look at Us,” “Take Your Memory With You,” and the title track. On the side he participated in Mark O’Connor’s New Nashville Cats (1991 Warner) project and won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration for the track “Restless.”
I Still Believe in You (1992 MCA) is almost a Greatest Hits collection with five chart entries; “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” “One More Last Chance,” “Tryin’ to Get Over You,” “No Future in the Past,” and the title track, his first #1 country single. “I Still Believe in You” won two Grammys for Gill, Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song. His second #1, a duet with Reba McEntire on “The Heart Won’t Lie,” is included on McEntire’s It’s Your Call (1992 MCA.)
He followed his first Christmas album Let There Be Peace on Earth (1993 MCA) with the 4X platinum When Love Finds You (1994 MCA), his first hard-core country album. The title track won him another Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy and launched six more hits “What the Cowgirls Do,” “Whenever You Come Around,” “Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn),” “You Better Think Twice,” “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” and the title cut. “Go Rest High On That Mountain” won Gill Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song Grammys. High Lonesome Sound (1996 MCA) featured Gill’s hot guitar work on bluegrass, blues and Cajun style tunes. The title track, cut with Alison Krauss and Union Station won a Best Country Vocal Collaboration Grammy and “Worlds Apart” took home that year’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance statue. Another track from the album, “My Pretty Little Adrianna” took home a Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy in 1997.
The Key (1998 MCA) was Gill’s first #1 country album. It included a duet with Patty Loveless on “My Kind of Woman/My Kind of Man” and “If You Ever Have Forever In Mind” another Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy winner. Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (1998 MCA) celebrated his marriage to country/gospel star Amy Grant. Next Big Thing (2003 MCA) was the first album Gill produced himself and it gave him two more hits with the Grammy winning title track and “Young Man’s Town.” 1n 2004 he rejoined Rodney Crowell and his band for The Notorious Cherry Bombs (2004 Universal South) and scored with “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.” In 2005 Gill scored a Best Southern, Bluegrass or Gospel Album Grammy for his contribution to Amy Grant’s Rock of Ages, Hymns and Faith (2005 World).
These Days (2006 MCA Nashville) was a huge gamble, a four disc set that included a rock, country, acoustic and pop CD. His guests included John Anderson, Guy Clark, Sheryl Crow, Phil Everly, Amy Grant, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Raitt, Leann Rimes, Gretchen Wilson, Lee Ann Womack, and Trisha Yearwood to name just a few. The album went platinum in a few weeks and won two Grammys Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “The Reason Why” and Best Country Album. Gill is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2011 he released Guitar Slinger.