Next year, country music superstar Vince Gill will add a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to his list of honors that includes inductions into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
The Walk of Fame honorees for 2012 include actors Jennifer Aniston, Richard Burton, Kate Winslet, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez and Adam West, music legends Barry White, Hal David, David Foster and the band Heart and cartoonist Matt Groening.
This will be his family’s second star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His wife, singer/songwriter/author Amy Grant, received a star in 2006.
Gill moved to Los Angeles when he was 19 and lived there from 1976 until 1983. “It was one of the best times in my life,” he says. “I have a great fondness for it.
“When I lived out there, I was such a young person that I hadn’t really accomplished much of anything,” he says. “So even the thought of one day having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was preposterous. It was silly. It wasn’t even in the realm of my thinking.
“I walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard and said, ‘There is so-and-so.’ I never thought for one second, ‘I will have one of these one day.’
“Amy has one out there, which is really neat. I got to go out there and experience that with her. When I found out that I would be getting one too, I said, ‘If you could just put it next to Amy’s that would be awesome.’”
When Gill moved to Los Angeles, he quickly discovered that he was surrounded by many of the musicians he had admired while growing up in Oklahoma City, Okla. “The most amazing thing was that it seemed to me that everybody I was really nuts about was out there,” he says. “It was mind-numbing to me who I could go hear play. Those guys I had seen on the back of record jackets were playing in the clubs.”
The first time he performed in Los Angeles was at the Troubadour. He played in Sundance, a bluegrass group fronted by Byron Berline that opened for Guy Clark. “It turns out Emmylou Harris was there, and Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark,” he says,
“all of these people that I had no idea how they would shape my future. There they were right off the bat, and we hit it off. I don’t think I could have found a better place to go at that age. It would have been a much better situation for me than coming to Nashville at that time. It was really an amazing place to be.”
Gill first began writing songs while living in Los Angeles. “I was a seriously struggling musician, so I was also out there playing on the Redondo Beach for tips and borrowing cars to get around in and first getting my feet under me,” he says. “The scale of that place was so much bigger than anything I could have ever imagined – miles and miles of people and freeways and oceans and mountains. It was insane. I had never been to a place that big.
“It was a wild time, I assure you,” he says. “I couldn’t believe that there was that much stuff going on and that many people. At 19, you are wide-eyed and yet to see much of anything. It was a wonderful experience and I am grateful for that stretch of time. It really puts you in your place in a humbling way. You thought you were a pretty good musician and go out there and then say, ‘Gee whiz, everybody in every bar and club and studio is pretty amazing.’”
In 1979, Gill joined Pure Prairie League as the lead singer and recorded three albums with the band, the first of which produced the 1980 hit “Let Me Love You Tonight.” After leaving the band in 1981, he joined Rodney Crowell’s band, the Cherry Bombs, where he worked with Tony Brown and Emory Gordy Jr., who would become his producers.
In 1983, he signed with RCA Records and moved to Nashville. He released his debut album the following year. His debut mini-album Turn Me Loose (produced by Gordy) was released the following year, featuring his first charting solo single, “Victim of Life’s Circumstance.” The Things That Matter, his first full album, was released later that year, featuring two Top 10 hits: a duet with Rosanne Cash on “If It Weren’t For Him” and a solo hit with “Oklahoma Borderline.” In 1987 he achieved his first Top 5 single, “Cinderella,” from his album The Way Back Home. In addition to his solo career, he also worked frequently as a studio musician, wrote songs for other artists and toured with Emmylou Harris.
He signed with MCA Records in 1989 and reunited with Brown as a producer. His first MCA album, When I Call Your Name, established him as a force in country music and helped him nab his first Country Music Association trophy (Single of the Year) and Grammy (Best Male Country Vocal Performance). The hits and awards kept coming, and they haven’t stopped since. The two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year is the only person to ever win five consecutive CMA Male Vocalist of the Year awards and the only songwriter to win Song of the Year four times for “When I Call Your Name,” “Look At Us,” “I Still Believe in You” and “Go Rest High On That Mountain.”
Gill has sold more than 26 million albums and won 20 Grammys and 18 CMA Awards. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Later this summer, he will release “Threaten Me With Heaven,” his first new single in four years. This will be the debut single from his new album, Guitar Slinger, which is set for a fall release.