The Untold Truth Of Vince Gill

Country musician Vince Gill has been in the industry long enough to know what it takes to shine. In the 1990s, he won the Country Music Association Awards for several years in a row (via Biography.) He has also bagged an impressive number of Grammy Awards (21).

But according to his website, Gill is a reluctant country star and avoids the limelight. And he's not too materialistic either. He told The North American Guitar that "Guitars mean something to me. I have one car, I don't have other houses in other parts of the world, I don't have a boat, I don't have any toys. I just love old guitars and I love seeing them have a home." He also ensures that he plays all his musical instruments, instead of simply putting them up for display. 

The country musician has led a colorful life that has been filled with interesting experiences. This is the untold truth of Vince Gill.

Vince Gill's father was strict

Vincent Grant Gill was born in April 1957 in Norman, Oklahoma, according to Biography. Gill's dad was a big part of his life, and the musician has spoken at length about his father, as well as writing and performing songs in tribute to his old man, who he has described as "a character" and "deep down, a redneck Oakie."

He also mentioned that his dad was strict and intimidating, at 6 feet 3 inches. For Gill's dad, it was natural to judge a situation quickly and figure out the next steps without further ado. Gill said that he had a "fair and swift justice system," which meant that if he did something wrong, his dad would punish him immediately. The musician joked, "he was a lawyer for the first half of my life and a judge for the second half of my life, but he felt like a judge all of my life."

Vince Gill picked up music early on

For Vince Gill, music was meant to be an integral part of his life. According to the book "For the Music" by Jo Sgammato, his home was full of music and his dad, a guitar and banjo player, often performed at local dance halls. Gill's mom was skilled at playing the harmonica and piano. Additionally, his brother and grandmother were fond of playing the guitar. It was only natural for Gill to be intrigued by music as he watched his loved ones play music instruments with ease.

Even as a little kid, Vince Gill was enthusiastic and was often spotted with his grandmother's guitar. His family was either creating new music or listening to popular country songs. Gill revealed that he was a big fan of Chet Atkins and kept all his records. He said, "I marveled at how he played. He's the most effortless-looking musician I've ever seen." Gill properly started playing his first guitar at the age of 5. In just three years, he felt comfortable enough to perform for a local radio station with his brother, Bob. 

Vince Gill was writing songs at 19

Vince Gill pretty much grew up on music, which meant that when he got to be a part of the band the Pure Prairie League, he was confident enough to make music without second-guessing himself. According to American Songwriter, Gill had started writing songs of his own at 19 and came up with a lot of music for the Pure Prairie League. He recalled, "I wound up getting five songs on the first album I did with them. That shocked me. I had only been writing for about a year, and didn't write a lot back then, but that inspired me to write a lot more." 

Before his stint with the band, Gill had also worked with quite a few bluegrass bands. Per the book,"For the Music," the artist knew he was taking a risk by choosing to pursue music instead of pursuing a degree. Luckily, for him, it turned out to be the right choice, as he got a chance to learn from many experienced musicians. Gill said, "bluegrass influenced the way I approach music." He looks back on those days fondly and has said that bluegrass was a "good training ground."

Vince Gill once got booed at a concert

Success isn't easy for everybody, not even Vince Gill. The singer revealed in an interview that in his early days as a musician, he got the opportunity to open for KISS when he was with a bluegrass group called Mountain Smoke (via Sirius XM.) The gig was held in Oklahoma City and was a bit of a surprise for Mountain Smoke. 

Gill and his bandmates were offered the opportunity when the opening act backed out at the last minute. Mountain Smoke was doing well in the local scene and was well-known. However, its members had no idea who they would be opening for until the last minute. According to Gill, the audience was all set for a powerful rock-and-roll performance and didn't expect to listen to a mellow bluegrass act. "...we didn't last very long," the musician explained. "...the first song finished and the whole place started booing."

Gill was feeling a bit cheeky and couldn't help but have a good time. "It was kind of exciting getting booed by that many people," he said (via "For the Music"). Mountain Smoke kept playing until the crowd started throwing stuff, at which point they decided to leave the stage. 

Vince Gill was patient about his solo career

According to the book "For the Music," Vince Gill took his time before embarking on his solo career as a musician. He said, "I feel like having that patience to wait until I was really ready is going to pay off in the long run."

Before he made this decision, he was asked several times to quit the music groups that he was a part of and go solo. By the time he felt like it was time for him to be on his own, he had already created music with popular and experienced artists such as Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, and more. Emory Gordy Jr., a former bandmate, believed that Gill would do something big and somehow "get more rock fans interested in country music." He was right. Gill would go on to become a sensation in the music industry.

Vince Gill is humble

One of the most redeeming things about Vince Gill is that he appears to be a humble man who doesn't take anything in life for granted. According to Pop Matters, Gill doesn't believe in getting ahead of himself. The musician was quoted as saying, "I have gifts that I've been given that are special, but that in turn doesn't make me special."

Despite making it big as a solo artist, Gill has always been happy to use a flexible approach and collaborate with other musicians. For example, he joined the Eagles in 2017 after Glenn Frey's demise. Gill didn't take the job lightly and said, "I'm beyond flattered that I was the one they called to continue that legacy. Joe [Walsh] was a huge inspiration to me as a guitar player."

Even though Gill was mostly required to sing in the band and his duties were relatively "limited," he didn't mind. He acknowledged that the group already had stronger guitar players and that they needed someone to sing for them, which is where he came in. He has explained that he was taught to be humble as a child. He joked, "my folks would have kicked my a** if I had acted any other way. That's the way we were raised. You're not going to be a showoff. You're not going to be an arrogant kid."

Vince Gill is not afraid to speak up

In 2021, Vince Gill spoke up about one of the things that bothers him greatly: underrepresentation in the music industry. According to People, Gill believes that Black and female musicians simply haven't been treated equally compared to their peers so far and that this needs to change. He said that the country music space can often feel like a "white man's genre."

Gill added, "Women in country music could make the same claim to some degree to Black artists that they haven't been made to feel welcome." He also said that he genuinely wishes he could figure out a way out to weed out inequality and make room for fair representation in the industry. 

But Gill's record on gender equality in the music industry isn't clear cut. In 2018, he stood by the Grammy Awards when critics claimed that female musicians weren't represented in a fair manner that year (via Billboard.) Back then, Gill said that it's "impossible" to not leave someone off the list each year. He said, "I look at it kind of trying to see the whole field, you know. And I think the Grammys will go on and the country artists will feel slighted. Or maybe the classical people will feel slighted."

Vince Gill was meant to be with Amy Grant

There was a time when singer Amy Grant and Vince Gill weren't a couple. According to ABC News, they worked together on a beautiful duet in the early 1990s and were instantly attracted to each other. However, they were both married and had kids. Grant knew there was something special about Gill, though. She said, "I think that a part of me loved him instantly." 

Grant described how she couldn't stop herself from hugging Gill at one point. Gill was attracted to Grant as well, and had to hold himself back. He even wrote a song for her called, "Whenever You Come Around." However, Gill and Grant didn't express their feelings to each other because they were already committed and didn't want to hurt their partners and conservative fans. And yet, the pair were somehow destined to end up together. Gill said that they stayed loyal to their partners when they were committed and didn't cheat. "We were both married, and though we were crazy about each other, we thought, 'Well, that's not our life,'" he explained (via AARP.)

However, life had other plans in store. By the late 1990s, Gill and Grant had both separated from their spouses and managed to rekindle their connection. They tied the knot on March 10, 2000, a decade after first meeting. 

Vince Gill is a talented golfer

Vince Gill may be a talented musician, but that's not his only skill. He's also a really good golf player. According to Atlanta Magazine, he started playing golf with his dad when he was a kid. It has remained a lifelong habit that he's still fond of. He said, "If I've got spare time, I usually wind up on the golf course somewhere." Gill added that the sport can be tricky to decode because every game tests a player in different ways. He said, "It's such a mysterious game. Some days you can't miss, some days you can't find it, but it's always fun trying."

When Gill was little, he found himself getting a little obsessed with the game and was a regular by the time he reached the third grade (via For the Music.) In fact, his mom joked that golf was basically the most efficient babysitter in the world. He was also a fan of other sports such as basketball, football, and baseball. His childhood seems to have mostly revolved around sports as well as music.

Vince Gill's dad was thrilled to meet Dolly Parton

For Vincent Gill's father, J. Stanley Gill, one of his most cherished memories was getting a chance to meet one of his favorite singers of all time, Dolly Parton. According to Classic Country Music, he was in for a huge surprise when got the opportunity to meet the singer thanks to his son's work commitments. 

Vince Gill was scheduled to record "I Will Always Love You" with Parton, and decided to give his father a special treat by taking him along for the recording. Gill senior couldn't believe that he was actually going to meet Parton after being a fan for so many years. The legendary country singer was reportedly really sweet to him and showered him with lots of hugs. Vince Gill remarked, "Boy I knew my dad for 40 years, and I got that picture back of him and Dolly Parton together ... hands down, biggest smile he ever had on his face."

He made a mark with When I Call Your Name

One of the albums that best demonstrates Vince Gill's powerful voice is "When I Call Your Name." According to the book "For the Music," his previous music didn't highlight his voice as much as this one. Why? Well, Gill was shy and didn't want to focus on his singing voice, but also he considered himself a guitarist first. However, he decided to take a risk with 1989's "When I Call Your Name" and fully use his voice for the first time.

Gill said, "I wanted to do something really country that showcased my voice." And he was right to do so. "When I Call Your Name" features a variety of genres and musical influences, such as ballads, a bluegrass-inspired waltz, and more. With the LP, Gill proved that he was truly versatile and earned both chart success and critical appreciation. The Pittsburgh Press called Gill a "multitalented artist" and stated that the album was the "key to mainstream success in country music" (via "For the Music").

VInce Gill lost his brother in 1993

According to "For the Music," 1993 was a difficult year for Vince Gill and his family. They lost Bob, Vince's elder brother, who had a heart attack that March. Earlier in life, Bob was in a coma for months after a devastating car crash. His life was difficult and he was known to go off the grid for months at a stretch. However, he was home in Oklahoma when he died. Remembering his older brother, Vince said, "He got dealt what he got dealt, but he never complained. And he showed me more character with nothing than most people who have everything." 

Per Rolling Stone, one of Vice Gill's most touching songs was partly inspired by Bob. "Go Rest High on That Mountain" was written after musician Keith Whitley's death in 1989. Vince had started working on the song around that time but got around to finishing it only after Bob's death. The "spiritually optimistic" song received two Grammys and the BMI award. Vince also wrote a song just for Bob titled "It Won't Be The Same This Year." Reflecting on the song, Vince remarked, "while it was a story about my brother, a lot of people will relate to the same emotions" (via The Oklahoman.) 

Vince Gill is known to be a decent guy

Those who know Vince Gill seem to say that he's a good person, someone who's easy to be around and talk to. Legendary musician George Jones once said that Gill is one of the nicest people he's ever met in the industry (via "For The Music"). He said, "he brings back the soul of country music like it used to be in the old days."

Gill has a stellar reputation in Nashville as well. The Wall Street Journal describes him as having "uncommon respect from his country-music colleagues." Gill has mentioned several times in public that he values integrity and wants to be good to other people. He said, "My integrity and what people think of me, along with how I've treated people, are important." He added that once you take away all those awards and titles from a person, what truly stays is character. He has also said that he doesn't wish to be controlled by his ego and doesn't want to get caught in that trap. He stated, "I hate egos. I'll fight forever not to show mine."

Okie was one of Vince Gill's most powerful albums

Vince Gill stepped away from the Eagles in 2019 to release the solo album, "Okie." As per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Okie" was a hard-hitting album that had thought-provoking music and personal themes. Alongside, "Letter to My Mama," it includes a song for his wife titled, "When My Amy Prays," a nod to her faith.

It was a difficult song to get right, Gill said. "The hard part of writing that song ... was the vulnerability that I put myself in," he reflected. He also discussed how it was tough for him to accept that he didn't grow up going to the church and embracing religion like his wife. And it wasn't easy for him to put it all out there. He added, "the truth I told about myself was the hardest thing to do, saying this might be what my wife is and has been, and not so much me."

Gill didn't have a grand plan when he started working on "Okie." He didn't hold on to expectations and simply focused on creating music. He also said that he's never really made music with expectations. For him, music is a way to raise others up and inspire them.