Vince Gill Reveals Why He Turned Down an Offer to Join Dire Straits
Vince Gill is one of the most important country artists of his generation, but he struggled during his early days trying to establish a solo career in Nashville. In a new interview, the country icon reveals that he received an offer to join Dire Straits during those lean times, and shares why he felt like he had to turn it down.
Gill came to Nashville after a successful stint as the lead singer of the pop-country group Pure Prairie League, with which he scored his first hit, "Let Me Love You Tonight,' in 1980. But he had a slow start when he moved to Nashville and signed a solo country deal with RCA; his early albums did not establish him as anything other than an occasional minor hitmaker, but a true breakthrough eluded him for years.
Gill tells Apple Music Country's I Miss…90s Country Radio With Nick Hoffman that he was facing mounting financial pressure when he got an unexpected offer that could have changed everything.
"I get a call from Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and he said, 'Hey, I'm going on a world tour. I want to see if you'd come and join the band.' It would've solved all of the financial problems I had, and I thought about it and I adored the way he played, and thought about it and thought about it," Gill shares.
Despite his struggles and the seemingly fortuitous timing, Gill ultimately felt that the opportunity wasn't right for him.
" ... I told myself, I said, 'Man, if, if you do that, it'll be like throwing in the towel. You've worked so hard to try to be a country artist of some validity,' and if you do that, in my mind, it meant admitting failure, and that wasn't much of an option for me," he reflects. "So I called him and I said, 'Look, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm going to say no just because I think I have something to offer country music.' And I hadn't recorded ‘When I Call Your Name,’ I don't think. It wasn't a hit. I didn't have it in my back pocket, nothing like that. I said, 'Look, Mark, if I don't believe in me, nobody else will. How can I expect somebody else to if I don't? So I'm sadly going to turn this down.'"
Though Gill couldn't have known it at the time, it turned out to be the best decision he could have made. His fourth album, 1989's When I Call Your Name, scored him a No. 2 breakthrough hit with its title song, and he placed additional hits from the album, which went on to receive Double Platinum certification. Gill scored his first No. 1 hit in 1992 with "I Still Believe in You," launching him into a long string of No. 1 hits that have seen him become the most-awarded artist in the history of country music.
Ironically, Gill did end up joining a successful rock band, though it was years later. He's been a member of the Eagles since 2017 as part of a new lineup that includes Glenn Frey's son, Deacon Frey. The elder Frey died in 2016, and his son and Gill split his parts in the group's live shows now.
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