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If you like Vince Gill's story, you might also like:
Johnny Cash,
Sheryl Crow,
Lauryn Hill,
Quincy Jones,
Naomi Judd,
B.B. King,
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and Bernie Taupin

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Vince Gill
Vince Gill
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Vince Gill Biography

Country Music Hall of Fame

Vince Gill Date of birth: April 12, 1957

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  Vince Gill

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Vince Gill was born in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City, where his family moved when he was four years old. His father, a lawyer and administrative law judge, was a lover of country music who played guitar and banjo with friends at parties and dances. Vince Gill began playing guitar as a very small child, progressing quickly from the four-string tenor guitar to a full-size six-string. His parents recognized and supported his passion for music, buying him a professional instrument -- a Gibson ES-335 semi-hollow electric guitar -- when he was only ten years old. Vince Gill progressed rapidly in music, taking up the mandolin, banjo and fiddle while concentrating on the guitar. Forgoing formal instruction, he learned songs and licks off of records, absorbing everything from folk music and bluegrass to rock and jazz.

In his teens, Vince Gill played with a series of local bluegrass bands, performing in Oklahoma City bars with the local favorite Mountain Smoke. One night, they opened for the country rock band Pure Prairie League, a group that would play a substantial role in Gill's future. His parents insisted he keep up his grades in high school, and he enjoyed outdoor sports, particularly golf, but there was no doubt that after graduation, he would pursue music full-time.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
At age 18, Gill moved on his own to Louisville, Kentucky to join the band Bluegrass Alliance. After a few tours with the group, he joined the Boone Creek Band, led by mandolin virtuoso Ricky Skaggs. Although Gill's tenure with the band was brief, Gill and Skaggs would work together often in the years ahead. Always on the lookout for more challenging musical collaborations, Gill moved to Los Angeles, joining a bluegrass group led by the esteemed session fiddler Byron Berline. He also began to do session work as a guitarist and harmony vocalist for other artists.

In 1979, only four years after leaving home, Vince Gill was hired as lead vocalist for Pure Prairie League. With his eclectic musical background, Gill moved easily from the acoustic bluegrass of his earlier bands to the electric country rock sound of his new group. Over the next two years, he toured the country with the band and recorded three albums. A single, "Let Me Love You Tonight," made the Top Ten on the pop music charts. While playing with the band, Gill met singer Janis Oliver, of the country music duo Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Gill and Oliver were married in 1980. Their daughter Jenny was born in 1982.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
Despite his success with Pure Prairie League, Gill jumped at the chance to join the Cherry Bombs, led by singer and songwriter Rodney Crowell. Gill loved Crowell's traditional approach to country music and felt this was an opportunity for him to grow as a musician. In the Cherry Bombs, Gill first worked with two Nashville veterans, pianist Tony Brown and bass player Emory Gordy, Jr., who would both play a large role in his subsequent solo career. His work with Crowell led to a job as lead guitarist with Rosanne Cash.

Gill settled in Nashville, where there were many opportunities for him to work as a session guitarist and harmony vocalist, but he was eager to record as a solo artist. He signed a contract with RCA records in 1983 and released three albums showcasing his talents as a singer and songwriter. The first, Turn Me Loose, was produced by his friend Emory Gordy. A single from this record, "Victim of Life's Circumstance," was his first song to reach the country music charts. His second album, The Things That Matter, had two Top 10 hits, a duet with Rosanne Cash, "If It Weren't for Him," and "Oklahoma Borderline." His third album for RCA, The Way Back Home, included the song "Cinderella," his first number to reach the Top 5 on the country charts.

By this time, other artists were beginning to record Vince Gill's songs; he was in constant demand as a session musician, and was appearing with stars such as Emmylou Harris, who had introduced Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs to a national audience. He had won an enviable reputation in country music circles, but his albums enjoyed only moderate sales and he was still largely unknown to the general public.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
As his career in country music stalled, Gill received a surprising invitation from one of the world's most popular rock bands. Mark Knopfler, of the British band Dire Straits, asked Gill to join the band as second guitarist, a tempting offer from one of the biggest international touring attractions of the era. The offer was also a considerable professional honor, as Knopfler himself was one of the most admired guitarists in rock. Gill was tempted, but he was not ready to give up on his struggle for recognition in country music. He resolved to continue pursuing his solo career, although he has remained friends with Knopfler and later played on a Dire Straits record as a guest guitarist.

Determined to make a change, Gill moved from RCA to MCA Records and began work on a new record, with his friend Tony Brown producing. The resulting album, When I Call Your Name, proved to be the career turning point Gill was looking for. The title song went to Number 2 on the country charts and won Gill the 1990 Grammy for Best Male Vocal Country Performance. The album was certified platinum for selling over a million copies and established Vince Gill as a bona fide country music star.

Gill's second album with MCA, Pocket Full of Gold, also went platinum. Four singles from the album reached the Top 10, "Liza Jane," "Look at Us," "Take Your Memory With You" and the title song. His 1992 collection, I Still Believe in You, was his biggest yet, selling over 4 million copies. The album featured five hit singles, "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 song, which became Gill's first Number 1 single and won two Grammy Awards for Gill as the song's writer and as singer. Vince Gill had a second Number 1 single when he sang the duet "The Heart Won't Lie" with Reba McEntire.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
As a top star in country music, Gill was asked to host the 1992 Country Music Awards broadcast. With his quick humor, warm presence and obvious affection for his colleagues and their music, Gill was an immediate hit with television audiences. He hosted the show for 12 consecutive seasons, a record for hosting a television awards show.

In 1993, Vince Gill released his first Christmas album, Let There Be Peace on Earth. He followed this with When Love Finds You. This too sold more than 4 million copies and scored six hit singles: "What Cowgirls Do," "Whenever You Come Around," "Which Bridge to Cross (Which Bridge to Burn)," "You Better Think Twice," and "Go Rest High on That Mountain," which won 1995 Grammy honors Best Song and Best Male Vocal Performance in the Country genre.

In addition to his solo work, Gill remained in constant demand as a duet partner joining Dolly Parton in a remake of her signature song, "I Will Always Love You." Gill also sang the duet "House of Love" with Amy Grant on her album of the same name. At the time, Grant was best known as a Christian music artist; her duet with Gill scored a hit on the pop charts. Although there was no immediate follow-up recording, Gill and Grant were to record more duets in the future.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
Gill's 1996 album High Lonesome Sound yielded a diverse selection of hit singles: "My Pretty Little Adriana," Worlds Apart," "You and You Alone," "A Little More Love" and the title song. Released nearly a year apart, the singles "Worlds Apart" and "Pretty Little Adriana " won consecutive Grammy awards for Gill's vocal performance.

In spite of his sustained success, the late 1990s were difficult years for Vince Gill. His father died in 1997, and the following year, his marriage to singer Janis Oliver came to an end. As always, Gill found solace in music. His 1998 album "The Key" marked a return to a traditional country sound. It was the best-selling country album of the year, with the Grammy-winning hit, "If You Have Forever in Mind," and a duet with Patty Loveless, "My Kind of Woman, My Kind of Man." In 1999, he stepped outside the country mainstream once again, singing the duet "If You Ever Leave Me" with Barbra Streisand on her album A Love Like Ours.

Gill's life took a positive turn in 2000 when he married singer Amy Grant. Their daughter Corrina was born the following year. A new stability in his home life prompted a renewal in his music as well. Gill celebrated his new happiness in the album Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye with the hit single "Feels Like Love." In 2003, Gill produced the album Next Big Thing, functioning as his own producer for the first time. The title song won Gill another Grammy for his vocal performance. He revisited his roots as well, re-uniting with Rodney Crowell to record an album as the Notorious Cherry Bombs.

Vince Gill Biography Photo
In 2006 Gill produced his most ambitious project to date. These Days was a four-disc set, with 43 original songs in styles ranging from acoustic folk and bluegrass to sophisticated contemporary pop, rock and jazz. An all-star team of guest artists joined with Gill on These Days, including Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt, Gill's wife Amy Grant, and his daughter Jenny Gill. The massive collection won widespread critical acclaim and received the year's Grammy Award for Best Country Album of the Year.

In 2007, Vince Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He has since served as President of the Board, instituting a series of benefit concerts to raise funds for the recognition and preservation of America's musical heritage in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

In addition to his many honors for solo singing and songwriting, Gill has been honored as a guitarist, for his contributions to the instrumental recordings "Red Wing" and "Bob's Breakdowns," and for a 2001 supergroup rendition of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." In 2008, he shared another Grammy with a supergroup of country guitar pickers for their performance on the instrumental "Cluster Pluck." Gill won 20 Grammy Awards between 1990 and 2008, the most awards ever given to any male artist in country music.

In a single week of November 2014 Vince Gill received two awards for lifetime achievement from major music industry organizations: the Icon Award of the Broadcast Music Association (BMI) and the Country Music Association's Irving Waugh Award of Excellence. Gill is only the fourth person to receive the latter award since its inception in 1983; the last musician to be so honored was Johnny Cash.

See and hear Vince Gill and Amy Grant, performing at the 2009 International
Achievement Summit, at Singita Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa.

This page last revised on Nov 10, 2014 15:31 EDT
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