Labeling someone a “triple threat” in his or her chosen field is generally the height of praise. But applying that label to Vince Gill indicates a severe deficiency in math.
Sure, he’s a walking master class in singing, picking and songwriting. But he’s also earned his wings as a savvy bandleader, an infinitely adaptable sideman, a quick-witted TV host, a patient mentor of budding talent, a tireless contributor to worthy causes and a golfer who holds his own with the pros.
The man is clearly oblivious to time clocks. Ah, but the calendar is a different matter — and that we acknowledge as we toast him today (April 12) on his arrival at his 62nd birthday.
The affable Oklahoman, who’s currently on tour as a featured member of the Eagles’ band, has blazed a musical trail that looks more like a superhighway, mile-posted as it is with 21 Grammys, 18 Country Music Assn. awards, membership in the Grand Ole Opry and inductions into both the Nashville Songwriters and Country Music Halls of Fame.
It’s impossible to track down all the recordings for aspiring and legendary artists that Gill has sung or played on. However, best estimates put the number at around 1,000. For 12 years in a row, he hosted the CMA Awards shows. In 2013, the T. J. Martell Foundation, which raises money to fight cancer, awarded Gill its Lifetime Music Achievement Award. MCA Records will release Gill’s newest album in August.
For someone as immersed in music as Gill is, it’s no surprise that he turns up in dozens of music videos that are focused on other acts.
Here are some you may not have seen or will enjoy revisiting:
“Young Country” (with Hank Williams Jr., 1988)
Hank Jr. plays the mediator between the rising performers of the mid-1980s and the old guys who view them with skepticism. Gill’s is among the flood of new faces. [/item
“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” (with Gladys Knight, 1994)
Gill goes bouncy and breezy in this vocal back and forth. There are shots of the two performers rocking in the studio and relaxing between takes.
“Wives Do It All the Time” (with Cledus T. Judd, 1998)
Gill’s a latecomer in this video, too, as he provides the portly comedian some comic relief.
“If You Ever Leave Me” (with Barbra Streisand, 1999)
Streisand and Gill’s harmonies blend seamlessly in this romantic interlude.
“Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (with Earl Scruggs, 2001)
Are you ready to rock? This is a summit meeting of musical headliners. Besides Gill’s own smiling countenance, you may also recognize the radiant visages of Steve Martin (on banjo), Paul Shaffer (piano), Leon Russell (organ), Marty Stuart (mandolin), Albert Lee (electric guitar), Randy Scruggs (acoustic guitar), Glen Duncan (fiddle), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Gary Scruggs (harmonica), Glen Worf (bass) and Harry Stinson (drums). A rapturous hearkening back to Gill’s bluegrass origins.
“It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night (That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long)” (with Rodney Crowell, 2004)
For those of you who’ve been asking yourselves, “Wonder what Vince would look like in drag?” Here’s your answer–and maybe even more than you really wanted to know. This is from The Notorious Cherry Bombs album, which derives it name from Rodney Crowell’s long-ago backup band, the Cherry Bombs. The band members shown in the video’s barbershop opening are, in order of appearance, Gill, Crowell, Hank DeVito and Michael Rhodes.
“Bartender’s Blues” (with James Taylor, 2016)
A clip from the All for the Hall benefit in Los Angeles. Written by James Taylor, “Bartender’s Blues” was a No. 6 hit for George Jones in 1978, with Taylor providing the vocal harmonies. That’s Kacey Musgraves, who also sang for the benefit, seated at Taylor’s right.