“It was fun to find out how compatible and similar we were. Our voices and our range are similar. He is a no-nonsense guy and I am a goofball,” describes
Gill about his recent collaboration with Sting for an episode of CMT’s Crossroads. Photos by Rick Diamond
of playing at the end. It was so much fun to
just cut loose and play the blues. Hopefully
it didn’t get stale. I just loved where it went
and how the track massaged itself around it
and halfway through it lifted and went to
the next place. It’s a really neat record of a
bunch of guys listening to each other and
making it go somewhere.
Sounds like you used a Strat on that solo?
Yeah, that was a ’ 59 Strat. Recently, I bought
another Strat that used to belong to Duane
Eddy. He bought it brand new when he lived
out in Fullerton [California]. He never really
played it and then gave it to his son. His son
tracked me down in the process of wanting
to sell it and I thought it had a pretty good
history. Duane is a pretty good friend of mine
and I am a huge fan of his. I said, “I’ll give
that guitar a musical home.” That has been my
go-to Strat for the last little bit of time. I can’t
remember if I played it or a ’ 60 slab-board
Strat. Those are two of my favorite Strats.
Do you bring the vintage gear out on
Yeah, I take the great ones out there. [For a
detailed look at Vince’s road gear, go to p.
130] They need to be played. What else you
going to do? I feel like with all those guitars,
since I’m not going to sell them it doesn’t
matter as much if I bang them up a little bit.
If you are all worried about the value of it, I
don’t know if you should have it in the first
place. For a player, it’s what you want to do.
They sound great and they feel great, why
wouldn’t you want to play them?
You use many of the members of your
live band on records. One of the mainstays in your group has been keyboardist
John Hobbs. When did you two start to
John and I go back to the mid-’70s when
I moved to California. I was a 19-year-old
kid and he played on one of the first
records I played on out there. We were with
Byron Berline, a guy I used to work for
when I moved. We were friends and John
also played on the first record I did in ’ 83
as a solo artist. Eventually, he made his way
here to Nashville and I talked him into
going on the road a few years ago.
Tell me about who else is on the album.
Pete Wasner is another keyboard player that
always plays on my albums. We also write
songs together and he has been playing with
me for 30-plus years as well. Some of the
relationships I have with these guys are really
deep. Richard Bennett is a great guitar player
who I always lean on. He maybe is one of the
best supporting guitar players that I have ever
known. He’s an odd duck in that he never
really wants to play leads too often, but rather
playing parts and rhythm guitars. He is just
so great at coming up with really great stuff
that really makes the records special. His parts
are always a huge contribution to the records.
David Hungate, who is a great bass player, has
been playing in my band the last few years.
He used to be in Toto and played on a million records over the years. It’s worth it to me
to go the extra mile and pay those guys what
their worth and what they deserve. It’s a great
experience to play music every night with
really gifted musicians. Life’s too short.
You recently did some work with Sting.
How was that?
Oh boy. It was more than amazing. It was
a life highlight. They have a show on CMT
called Crossroads and I picked four of his
songs and he picked four of mine. We sang
them together and it was just a great experi-
ence. It was fun to find out how compatible
and similar we were. Our voices and our
range are similar. He is a no-nonsense guy
and I am a goofball. That may be the only
difference, but we are both really serious
about music and making sure it’s great. Great
stretch of a couple days working with him.
[In a British accent] I got to be a rocker.
It’s well known that you were offered a
gig in Dire Straits and turned it down. At
this point in your career do you ever see
yourself playing in a band again?
Yeah, I do. I think that at this point in
life I’m not exactly having No. 1 record
after No. 1 record and I have my feet well
entrenched in country music but not to the
level I did 15 or 20 years ago, or even 10.
I would definitely entertain the thought.
Sting and I talked about going on the road
together as the Self-Righteous Brothers
[laughs]. I would like to do something like
what the Traveling Wilburys did. Find four
or five people from different places and do
something like that. If Clapton called and
asked me to be his other guitar player on
tour, I would say yeah. Maybe 20 years ago
it really wouldn’t work. It didn’t make sense
for me to do that with Mark [Knopfler].
The musician in me would have done it in a
heartbeat. The place that I was in I just felt
that it was the wrong thing to do, for me.
Alright, I am going to put you on the
spot. Who would be the other three artists you would like to tour with?
Oh gosh. I would go out with Sting,
Michael McDonald, Sheryl Crow, maybe
Sonny Landreth. I could name you 20.
Eric and Mark, of course. I just think that
life is so short, and at 54 you really start to
see your mortality and realize you have less
time left than you have lived. So I would
be open for just about anything and really
always have been. I think my career bears
that out. Most hillbilly singers wouldn’t be
thought of as a duet partner with Gladys
Knight, Barbra Streisand, or Tim Finn. I
feel lucky I don’t have a place that I have to
land in all the time.