September 22, 2011
Never has there been and never will there likely be a voice like Vince Gill's. His unparalleled range and captivating delivery, coupled with his sublime songwriting skills, have made the Oklahoma native an unmistakable staple on country radio since the early '80s. They've also earned him a trophy case full of Grammys (20, the most of any male country artist), CMA awards (18) and countless other honors. See Gill play live in concert, and you'll realize that just as uniquely strong of an instrument as his voice is his guitar. Often called the Eric Clapton of country music, the 54-year-old guitar virtuoso can mesmerize an audience with his instrumental jams as much as he can with his vocals. So while Gill doesn't have a self-titled album anywhere to be found in his bustling discography, his latest comes close: 'Guitar Slinger.' "The original phrase came from my step-kids' grandfather," Gill Tells AOL Music of his compelling track 'Threaten Me With Heaven.' "He had received bad news about his health, and that was his response: 'What are they going to do? Threaten me with heaven?' How very profound ... I think this song honors him in a really great way.'" 'Threaten Me With Heaven' brought on a new meaning when the song's co-writer Will Owsley committed suicide. "He actually played some of the guitar on that record, and then I had to finish it without him. But it's great -- I'll always have that little piece of him playing on that record and the song we wrote together. I'll always have a soft spot for that song, and every time I sing it, I think about him." Gill honors another fallen friend on his new record, steel guitarist John Hughey who recently passed away, with the 'Buttermilk John.' "John was a steel guitar player who played on my records for nearly 20 years. Everything that you heard me do after 'When I Call Your Name' was John -- he really gave my music great definition. He was probably even more known in the days he played with Conway Twitty in the '60s and '70s. He was a world-class musician, and we were great friends. I wanted to honor him with a song, and his nickname was Buttermilk John because he loved buttermilk and cornbread."