During the mid-1980s, Vince Gill faced an unfathomable fork on his musical road. While struggling as a singer-songwriter, Gill received an offer that few thought he would refuse.
Vocalist-guitarist Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits surprised Gill by inviting the then-unknown to join his revered band. Even though Gill was having a tough time making ends meet, he turned Knopfler down.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I ever made,” Gill says during an interview from his Nashville home. “I was scuffling and had a chance to play guitar with one of the greatest guitarists ever. I don’t know how many people would have said no to that but I had no choice but to say no. If I accepted, I would have been fine financially but my solo career might have never happened. I had to say no or I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.”
Good call by Gill, who has sold more than 26 million albums, charted more than 40 singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs and earned a staggering 21 Grammy Awards.
“I’ve had an incredible run as a solo artist,” Gill said. “But it was tough saying no to Dire Straits. I would have loved to have played in a legendary rock band.”
Now, that time has come. Gill was hired last year to be part of the Eagles tour, which stops April 17 at Raleigh's PNC Arena. (They will be at Charlotte's Spectrum Center April 11 and Columbia, South Carolina's Colonial Life Arena April 16.)
A huge void in the Eagles camp had to be filled after vocalist-guitarist Glenn Frey died in 2016. Gill and Frey’s son Deacon flesh out the act.
Gill is singing Eagles classics such as as “New Kid in Town” and “Take it to the Limit.”
“I love rock,” Gill said. “I love having opportunities to do different things.”
Over recent years, Gill has co-headlined with Lyle Lovett for a night of storytelling and song.
“I sung on Lyle’s first album,” Gill says. “We became close friends.”
The same thing happened with his new bandmate, Don Henley. Gill sang and played on Henley’s 2015 solo album, “Cass County.” Henley went straight country, which is in Gill’s wheelhouse.
“Don is just an amazing singer-songwriter,” Gill says. “Who wouldn’t want to work with him any capacity?”
Gill is like a kid in a candy store playing songs he first listened to as a teenager coming of age in Oklahoma.
It’s a feel-good story since Gill is a popular fixture in Nashville.
“Vince is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” singer-songwriter John Hiatt says. “Everybody likes him.”
It almost sounds like one of the lyrics from “New Kid in Town.” The affable Gill obviously has a good time while performing with the Eagles, which also includes guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit. In a performance last month in Nashville, Gill and Deacon Frey performed like they had been part of the band for years.
Much like when vocalist Axl Rose filled in for AC/DC’s frontman Brian Johnson, Gill sounds as if he was born to sing such Eagles classics as “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Take It to the Limit.”
“I grew up on Eagles songs,” Gill said. “I grew up during a great time in music. So many great songs came out of that era.”
Who: Eagles with JD & The Straight Shot
When: 8 p.m. April 17
Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edward Mill Road, Raleigh
Tickets: Start at $45.50
Info: 919-861-2300 or thepncarena.com