“It felt important to me that the great Roy Acuff’s fiddle join the ranks of other revered instruments in the museum’s permanent collection—including Maybelle Carter’s 1928 Gibson L-5 guitar and Bill Monroe’s 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin,” said country music legend Vince Gill via press release regarding his recent donation of "The King of Country Music's" beloved fiddle to the Country Music Hall of Fame. “The fiddle was given to Acuff by soldiers during a time of war because of how much he meant to them. He meant a lot to me, too.”
In 1962, Acuff became the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, after a career in the 1940s, especially, that included foundational genre hits "Great Speckled Bird," "The Prodigal Son," and "Lord, Build Me a Cabin." The instrument Gill is donating was gifted to the performer after four soldiers in the U.S. Army’s 348th Engineer Combat Battalion saved the instrument from a bombed-out music store in Frankfurt, Germany. Acuff -- a favorite of U.S. troops serving in World War II -- notes, via a letter, that the fiddle “[had] been seen by millions who have watched me perform on stages.”
The instrument was acquired by Gill earlier in 2021 and will be made immediately available for display. "The great thing about instruments is the stories they tell. [The stories] can outlive us all. If you take care of an instrument, [the stories last forever]."
Continuing, Mick Buck, the museum's curatorial director, added, "Vince Gill's donation of Roy Acuff's fiddle is meaningful on so many levels. Vince Gill, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry, is passing along a treasured instrument from Roy Acuff, another member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry.It's a great continuation of tradition."