Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Vince started playing guitar as a young boy. Taught by his dad who also happened to be a lawyer and appellate judge, Vince performed with local bluegrass groups and at one point played with then unknown Ricky Skaggs. He was inspired by his father who was also a guitarist and banjo player, but only with friends and at parties.
In these early childhood years Vince progressed very quickly with the guitar, from the 4-string to 6-string. At ten years old and playing like a professional his parents bought Vince a professional guitar, the semi-hollow ES-335 Gibson Electric. This launched him and his appetite for instruments, leading him to learn the mandolin, banjo and fiddle. Vince learned to play these instruments from listening to records with no formal musical education.
Vince Gill's first #1 hit was a song on the album Firin Up titled "Let Me Love You Tonight," while singing with a California based band, Pure Prairie League, in 1996. During this time Vince met his wife Janice, another aspiring musician, and they married in 1980. Soon afterward Vince made the big decision to break from his success with Pure Prairie League for the chance to play with the Cherry Bombs. It was while working with the "Bombs" and Songwriter Rodney Crowell that Vince got the job of lead guitarist with Rosanne Carter, something that led to his solo career.
At this point in his life Vince decided to settle in Nashville where the opportunities were many for a good vocalist and guitarist, but his main focus was to become a solo artist. It was here in Nashville where he was signed on by RCA in 1983, and his first three albums with them had two top hits, including a top 10 duet with Rosanne Cash titled "If It Weren't For Him."
During the mid 1980's there was a lot of demand for Vince Gill and his songs. Many artists started recording Vince's songs and wanting to appear with him on stage, including Emmylou Harris.
Vince hosted twelve consecutive seasons of the Country Music Awards starting with his first appearance on September 30, 1992.
The 1990s were very difficult years for Vince, with the death of his father and the breakup and subsequent divorce from his longtime wife Janice Oliver. He had a career resurgence at the end of the decade with the release of his traditional Country album, "The Key" with the Grammy Hit, "If You Have Forever In Mind."
He has at times stepped out his Country music comfort zone: he sang a duet with Barbra Streisand called "If You Ever Leave Me" in 1999.
He became the only performer to win five consecutive Country Music Awards for Best Male Vocalist, taking the trophy from 1991-1995.
Certified double platinum in 1989, his hit song "When I Call Your Name" won him a Grammy Award on February 21, 1990 and sold over two million copies. This was the year Vince switched label companies and produced a more traditional Country album with the hit song's name.
In 2000, he married the singer Amy Grant (Vince Gill's middle name: Grant), and a year later the couple had a daughter named Corrina. His enjoyed professional success at this time as well with the release of his album Let's Be Sure We Kiss Goodbye and the single "Feels like Love."
It was in 2006 that Vince Gill did something very different, something that would reward him greatly later that year. He produced a four disc set with 43 songs of all original material, but ranging from jazz, folk, pop, rock, bluegrass and acoustics. This was an enormous undertaking but proved well worth it when it won the Grammy Award for Country Album of the Year.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Talking about how his songwriting has evolved over the years, Gill said in his Songfacts interview
: "I feel like as I get older I get better at writing songs. I'm finding better ways to write and I'm more willing to edit myself a little bit more. I'm more willing to be patient to wait for the right thing to come, the right words to come."
In the late 1980s, Vince Gill was a struggling musician when he got an offer from Mark Knopfler to join Dire Straits. He recalled to Radio.com
: "It would have solved all of my financial problems. I was struggling to pay the house note, and keep food on the table. It was a tough stretch. This would have solved all that. But then I said to myself, 'Well, if you do that, that's kinda like admitting failure. You're gonna bail on what you tried to do for a good long time.' And I said to myself, 'If you don't believe in you, who's gonna?' So I turned down the sure thing.
Lo and behold, [my] next record was a carer record, [1989's] When I Call Your Name
, and on a dime, things flipped and just went the other way. It was amazing."
Gill added that he sometimes thinks about what could have been: "Deep down, I wish I could have done that [joined Dire Straits]. I regret not getting to do that. But I made the decision that I thought was the right one for me, and got lucky."