Country Music has lost a legend. Merle Haggard, who turned 79 today, died Wednesday (April 6th) in California, surrounded by friends and family. The Country Music Hall of Famer had been in failing health for quite some time, diagnosed with double pneumonia in December, which led to the cancellation of several dates, including a two-night stand at the Ryman Auditorium.

    Haggard had 40 No. 1 songs, including “Mama Tried,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and wrote many classics, some of which had been recorded by folks such as Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill, who is a lifelong fan of the iconic entertainer.

    “I‘ve been a [Merle] Haggard nut my whole life,” says Vince Gill, who along with his pal Paul Franklin released Bakersfield album in 2013 (a collaborative tribute of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens songs). “And I’ve played country music, recorded country music my whole life, and I’ve tried to emulate what I loved about Merle Haggard on a lot of occasions.”

    Many of country music’s brightest stars took to Twitter to offer their thoughts:

    For Eric Church, he wrote and recorded “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” for his Sinners Like Me album. The song also featured the subject of the song, Mr. Merle Haggard.

    Eric Church ‏@ericchurch 
    Rest in peace. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00IEK9KdWgE …

    Alan Jackson ‏@OfficialJackson 
    “We lost one of the greatest singer/songwriters since Hank Williams. Inspiration to millions, great American, thank you Merle. I’ll miss you.”

    Luke Bryan ‏@LukeBryanOnline 
    “A true hero was lost today. Thank you for your contribution to not only country music but all music. @merlehaggard

    Keith Urban ‏@KeithUrban 
    “One of the gr8 concert memories I have is seeing Merle and the Strangers at the Ryman in Nashville. We had a ‘live’ album of his when I was growing up and I felt like I’d fallin’ inside my Dad’s stereo speakers. One of my all time favorite voices – and a master songwriter. Blessings to your soulful spirit Merle & all of you family & loved ones.” – KU

    Hillary Scott ‏@HillaryScottLA
    “You are a cornerstone of country music @merlehaggard…u will be missed greatly. Praying for the Haggard family.”

    KACEY MUSGRAVES ‏@KaceyMusgraves 
    “I think I’ll just stay here and drink.”

    Billy Currington ‏@billycurrington 
    “rip @merlehaggard thank you for all the great music u blessed us with. we will play it forever.”

    Dierks Bentley ‏@DierksBentley 
    “Literally just fell to the floor. can’t believe we lost the hag. rip merle haggard.”

    Toby Keith ‏@TobyKeithMusic 
    “The greatest singer songwriter of my lifetime is gone. Thanks for the music and friendship. R.I.P. Hag. – T”

    GaryAllan ‏@GaryAllan 
    “Merle was my all-time hero. Today we lost one of the greatest songwriters of country music and I will always regret not recording with him. He was a legend and I was honored whenever we got the chance to share a stage with him. Thank you for the inspiration, the advice and for always being you. I, as well as the entire music community, will miss you Merle.”

    Darius Rucker ‏@dariusrucker
    “Heaven’s band just got better! RIP to the LEGENDARY @merlehaggard. Your music will never die!”

    Jon Pardi ‏@JonPardi 
    “Sad day today @merlehaggard has passed. RIP to a true songwriter, a pioneer of California Country, and country music.”

    Kip Moore ‏@KipMooreMusic 
    “RIP Merle…you paved the way for so many. You had what we all hope for…a voice that matters and survives the ever changing trends.”

    Josh Turner ‏@joshturnermusic  5m5 minutes ago
    “Pains me to say that country music icon @merlehaggard has passed away. So honored to have known him and shared the stage with him. Thanks Merle for all you’ve done for us!”

    Mickey Guyton ‏@MickeyGuyton 
    “RIP Merle Haggard. Heaven’s choir just got a heck of a lot better.”

    For David Nail, seeing Merle in concert was a life-changing experience. “The night I saw Merle At the Golden Nugget, it was the single greatest combination of seeing an artist/venue/city together, that I’ve ever witnessed.  It was a spiritual experience.  I looked at my buddy multiple times in disbelief that we were actually there.  I teared up on a few songs.  I knew the greatness I was seeing/hearing.”

    George Strait was a huge fan of Merle Haggard’s. He says, “When I was in the Army and stationed at Schofield barracks in Hawaii, you know Merle came there, and he played Conroy Bowl.  And I remember I was playing an NCO club that night, and before my little gig, I got to run over there and I kinda snuck in and saw Merle and it just blew me away. That’s what I wanted to be like, you know, I wanted to be like the Hag. And so, I can’t tell you how big of an influence he was on me, just huge.”

    Strait also posted a reaction on his socials: “It’s a very sad day for all of us Hag fans. He was a true icon of the music world and it’s hard to believe we won’t be able to see him anymore. I honestly think that had it not been for him, I would not have chosen the path that I chose.” – G

    Audio / During a recent interview for his new album, Down to My Last Bad Habit, Vince Gill says he’s always been a huge fan of Merle Haggard.


    Vince Gill (Haggard nut) OC: …occasions. :12
    “I‘ve been a  Haggard Nut my whole life. And I’ve played country music, recorded country music my whole life, and I’ve tried to emulate what I loved about Merle Haggard on a lot of occasions.”

    Audio / George Strait talks about the huge influence Merle Haggard had on him and is career.


    George Strait (Merle Haggard) OC: …it’s just huge. :41
    “You know, Merle was huge in my career. When he did ‘Okie from Muskogee’ back in the 70’s, I think it was, you know I kinda got hooked then on Merle and country music.  When I was in the Army and stationed at Schofield barracks in Hawaii, you know Merle came there, and he played Conroy Bowl.  And I remember I was playing an NCO club that night, and before my little gig, I got to run over there and I kinda snuck in and saw Merle and it just blew me away. That’s what I wanted to be like, you know, I wanted to be like the Hag. And so, I can’t tell you how big of an influence he was on me, just huge.”



    Video / Vince Gill -- with Paul Franklin -- on Merle Haggard


    Video / Brothers Osborne "Natural High"


    Luke Bryan is scheduled to appear on The Late Late Show with James Corden on Thursday (March 31st) on CBS. Check your local listings for times.

    Luke Bryan is set to co-host for the ACM Great Outdoor Celebrity Archery Tournament in Las Vegas with Justin Moore again this year on Saturday, April 2nd. Eric Paslay and Dustin Lynch will be playing for #TeamLuke. Check out some of the action from last year in the video below.

    Eric Paslay is set to join Toby Keith on his 2016 Interstates & Tailgates Tour this summer. The trek kicks off May 21st in Louisville, Kentucky, and Eric will join the tour July 8th in Virginia Beach. “Really excited for the opportunity to be on the road with TOBY this year,” said Eric. “He sure knows how to put on a show. I can’t wait to take it all in and learn from one of the best.”

    Vince Gill will receive the E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award May 3rd during a ceremony at the Music City Center as part of Nashville’s National Tourism Week Hospitality Industry Celebration.The award honors Nashville business executives who’ve helped the city in its advancement as the center of music entertainment.

    Chris Stapleton has been announced as one of the performers at the 25th anniversary of the Lollapalooza festival July 30th in Chicago.

    Video / ACM Archery Tournament

  • THIS DATE IN HISTORY: Vince Gill (March 10th)

    Happy Anniversary to Vince Gill and his wife Amy Grant who tied the knot on this date (March 10th) in 2000.

    Video / House of Love video


    Vince Gill hit the road with Lyle Lovett on Wednesday night (February 17th) in Montgomery, Alabama. The pair reunited for the Songs and Stories Tour, revisiting their acoustic dates they did together last year.  It’s just the two of them and their guitars onstage at the same time, swapping stories and songs.

    “I know Lyle won’t have a plan, and I won’t either,” says Vince. “What he plays will inspire me, and probably vice-versa. It’ll be like playing ping-pong. Whatever song he chooses to sing will inspire the next song that comes out of me.”

    The two became friends in the ‘80s when Vince sang on Lovett’s second album. “We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and we did some shows together last year and just had a blast. You know, he’s got a great sense of humor and sometimes I do too, so I think the in-between song stuff is about as much fun as the song sometimes.”

    Vince just released his latest album, Down to My Last Bad Habit, which features his single, Take Me Down, featuring Little Big Town.
    Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett Songs and Stories Tour Dates:

    Feb. 17 — Montgomery, Ala. @ Montgomery Performing Arts Centre
    Feb. 18 — Huntsville, Ala. @ Von Braun Center Concert Hall
    Feb. 19 — Birmingham, Ala. @ Alabama Theatre
    Feb. 20 — Atlanta, Ga. @ Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
    Feb. 21 — Asheville, N.C. @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
    Feb. 23 — Daytona Beach, Fla. @ Peabody Auditorium
    Feb. 24 — Clearwater, Fla. @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
    Feb. 25 — Jacksonville, Fla. @ Florida Theatre
    Feb. 26 — Sarasota, Fla. @ Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
    Feb. 27 — Key West, Fla. @ Tennessee Williams Theatre
    Feb. 28 — Melbourne, Fla. @ King Center for the Performing Arts
    Feb. 29 — Fort Myers, Fla. @ Barbara B Mann Performing Arts Hall
    March 1 — Coral Springs, Fla. @ Coral Springs Center for the Arts

    Audio / Vince Gill talks about touring with Lyle Lovett.


    Vince Gill (Lyle Lovett) OC: …song sometimes. :18
    “I sang on Lyle’s, I think, second record back in about 1985, something like that. We’ve been friends for a long, long time, and we did some shows together last year and just had a blast. You know, he’s got a great sense of humor and sometimes I do too, so I think the in-between song stuff is about as much fun as the song sometimes.”


    On the eve of the February 12th release of his new album, Down To My Last Bad Habit, Vince Gill journeyed to Los Angeles to be inducted into the Guitar Center’s historic RockWalk by one of his guitar gods, the Eagles’ Joe Walsh.

    Vince Joe Walsh

    Guitar Center’s RockWalk is dedicated to honoring those artists who have made a significant impact and lasting contribution to the growth and evolution of music. As the newest RockWalk inductee, Gill’s handprints will reside on Hollywood Boulevard alongside equally accomplished musicians and innovators such as Eric Clapton, George Martin, Jimmy Page, Iron Maiden, Carlos Santana, Johnny Cash, Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Korn, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Run-D.M.C., Queen, Linkin Park and many others.

    “It’s a pretty impressive little piece of real estate out front,” said Walsh, eyeing the star-studded pavement.  “And today’s going to take it up a notch.”  Vince acknowledged Walsh among his many musical exemplars and mused on their importance to him.  “I felt like the point of any of it was to have an open mind,” he said, “and be willing to learn something from anybody.”

    After leaving his handprints for other pickers to try on for size, it was back to Nashville to perform at Country Radio Seminar and follow it with a day-of-release show at the fabled Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Lower Broadway.  The show will stream live at 7pm ET on Gill’s Facebook page.

    Reviews of Down To My Last Bad Habit have been rapturous.  Rolling Stone extolled the album’s “exquisite guitar work and soulful vulnerability.”  USA Today agreed, calling it “soulful yet sophisticated, emotionally raw yet gleaming with studio polish.”  The Boot ventured even farther, declaring that the album is “quite possibly his most perfect project—from a vocal and instrumental perspective—that he has recorded in his career.”  Forbes, Nash Country Weekly, The Boston Globe, Tulsa World and Nashville Scene all added their voices to the hallelujah chorus.

    Vince has also teamed with the Guitar Center chain of instrument and gear stores to conduct a nationwide search for previously undiscovered guitarists of merit.  It’s called Guitar Center OnStage With Vince Gill.  Details can be accessed at https://youtu.be/ro74jiAQ82s.

    Once the entries are in, Vince will pick five finalists who will then compete in Los Angeles for the grand prize.   That prize includes the opening slot on one of Vince’s U. S. shows during his upcoming tour, $10,000 in cash, a single produced by Justin Niebank (who’s also produced Vince, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Sheryl Crow), a meeting with Universal Music Group talent scouts and assorted other musical goodies.

    Beginning February 17th, Vince will reunite with Lyle Lovett for a 13-city tour of acoustic shows. For a full list of tour dates, news, images and more, visit www.VinceGill.com


    www.VinceGill.com| facebook.com/VinceGill| twitter.com/vgcom| instagram.com/vincegillmusic


    Vince Gill releases his new album, Down to My Last Bad Habit, Friday (February 12th). The 12-song record was written/co-written and co-produced by Vince and Justin Niebank. The collection features special guests such as Little Big Town on the Oklahoma native’s new single, “Take Me Down,” as well as newcomer Cam, trumpeter Chris Botti, Charlie Worsham, Ashley Monroe and his two daughters Jenny and Corrina.

    “I think that with every record, you’re at the mercy of the songs you’ve shown up with,” says Vince. “I don’t think there’s a conscious effort on my part to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to really rock this record out really hard.’ Do I point all the songs that I’m writing that way maybe? I’ve had songs come to me as it comes to me. Then honestly, pick the best songs. That’s another thing you learn as time goes on. Let’s just go with the best songs.”

    Vince will hit the road with his pal, Lyle Lovett, on their Songs and Stories Tour next week.

    Down to My Last Bad Habit Track Listing:

    1. “Reasons for the Tears I Cry” (Vince Gill)
      2. “Down to My Last Bad Habit” (Vince Gill, Al Anderson)
      3. “Me and My Girl” (Vince Gill)
      4. “Like My Daddy Did” (Vince Gill)
      5. “Make You Feel Real Good” (Vince Gill)
      6. “I Can’t Do This” (Vince Gill, Catt Gravitt, Brennen Hunt)
      7. “My Favorite Movie” (Vince Gill and Ashley Monroe)
      8. “One More Mistake I Made” (Vince Gill, Adrianne Duarte)
      9. “Take Me Down” (Vince Gill, Richard Marx, Jillian Jacqueline)
      10. “I’ll Be Waiting for You” (Vince Gill, Leslie Satcher)
      11. “When It’s Love” (Vince Gill, Richard Marx)
      12. “Sad One Comin’ On (A Song for George Jones)” (Vince Gill)

    Audio / Vince Gill talks about the songs on his album, Down to My Last Bad Habit.


    Vince Gill (songs on new album) OC: …years on ‘em. :38
    “I think that with every record, you’re at the mercy of the songs you’ve shown up with. I don’t think there’s a conscious effort on my part to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to really rock this record out really hard.’ Do I point all the songs that I’m writing that way maybe? I’ve had songs come to me as it comes to me. Then honestly, pick the best songs. That’s another thing you learn as time goes on. Let’s just go with the best songs. I love the diversity of these songs that are on here. Some of them are brand new, some of them have a lot of years on ‘em.”


    If you want to see Vince Gill and are in downtown Nashville on Friday (February 12th), you can see him for FREE at the special Vince Gill pop up store, housed inside the legendary Ernest Tubb Record Shop. He’ll perform several tracks from his new album, Down to My Last Bad Habit, available on Friday.

    Friday, Feb. 12 – 6.00pm

    Ernest Tubb Record Shop, 417 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203

    Vince has released his new single, “Take Me Down,” from his new album, Down to My Last Bad Habit.


    There’s a new synonym for “everywhere” and it’s “Vince Gill.”

    Thanks to the excitement being generated by the February 12th release of his new album—Down To My Last Bad Habit—Vince will be involving fans more intimately in more ways than ever before.

    “Take Me Down,” the first single from the album, features vocal assists by Little Big Town and has already been shipped to radio.  “A masterful appraisal of the volcanic force of love,” one critic calls it. Hear it at http://www.npr.org/2015/11/19/456382190/songs-we-love-vince-gill-take-me-down.

    Starting today, fans can preview the entire album on National Public Radio’s “First Listen” site at http://www.npr.org/2016/02/03/464899204/first-listen-vince-gill-down-to-my-last-bad-habit?sc=tw

    Vince’s skills as a storyteller are legendary.  A first of its kind audio-documentary, a Spotify playlist has been created to capture Vince’s engaging tales of the music business and the stars he’s worked with along the way—in three categories:  Vince Gill: A Musician’s Heart, Vince Gill: The Vocalist and Vince Gill: The Creator.  Listening to these inside accounts is the closest thing to being a guest in Vince’s living room.  To listen, follow these Spotify links:




    Vince has played, sung and/or written songs on more than 500 albums by other artists.  And he’s produced projects beyond these.  So what could be more natural—or delightful—than a diversion called “Six Degrees Of Vince Gill”?  Fans can enter any musician’s name to discover the degrees of separation the musical figure has from Vince.  Want to know the number of degrees between Vince and, say, Adele?  It’s two.  Check it out for yourself at 6degreesofvincegill.com.

    The famed Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, the city’s live-music center and most heavily visited thoroughfare, has been transformed into a special Vince Gill pop up store.    It features a giant outdoor photo of the new album cover and inside there’s a Vince Gill kiosk displaying his MCA Records catalog. The store also includes other artifacts, such as  limited edition Vince Gill t-shirts, guitar picks and more.  It is the only store at which CD copies of Down To My Last Bad Habit can be purchased before the release date.

    But it takes more than a monster album launch to keep Vince away from sports.  He and his 14-year-old daughter, Corrina, sang the national anthem for the world-televised NHL All-Star game in Nashville on Jan. 31.  And he and wife Amy Grant served as celebrity coaches.  Icing the cake, Gill  served as honorary Mayor of Smashville—along with the real mayor, Megan Barry—during the game weekend, Jan. 29 – 31.

    The Grand Ole Opry will celebrate Vince’s 25-year membership in that hallowed institution with two Vince-headlined shows Aug. 13.

    Fans can pre-order Down To My Last Bad Habit at http://umgn.us/2hbt.


    Multi-Grammy award winner and MCA Records Nashville recording artist Vince Gill announced today during a live Facebook chat at Ernest Tubb Record Shop in downtown Nashville with legendary Opry announcer and Country Music On-Air Personality Hall of Famer Eddie Stubbs that he will celebrate his 25th Anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry®with two special shows on Saturday, August 13th. Gill, one of the Opry’s most beloved and frequent players, was inducted as an Opry member on August 10, 1991.

    Gill will release his 18th album, Down To My Last Bad Habit, on February 12th on MCA Records Nashville. Beginning today, Opry fans can purchase autographed copies of the CD along with tickets to Gill’s 25th Opry anniversary show at opry.com.

    Gill is also scheduled to reunite with Lyle Lovett on February 17th for their 13-city “Songs and Stories” Tour. For a complete list of tour dates and more information go to www.VinceGill.com.

    “We’re excited both about Vince’s recording coming out next month and about celebrating his entire Opry career to date later this year,” said Opry Vice President and General Manager Pete Fisher. “We’ve had a preview of some of Vince’s new music at the Opry over the past few months, and it has been a reminder of why he has been an award-winning artist and a favorite of fans and fellow artists alike for more than a quarter century.”

    Combining unequaled musicianship and creativity with a strong sense of tradition — and a personality that has won him a reputation as one of the nicest people in country music — Vince Gill is one of the most honored artists in the music’s history, and one of the youngest to earn membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    A talented guitar picker by the time he was in his teens, Vince began his career playing with bluegrass bands — first in his native Oklahoma, then in Kentucky with the Bluegrass Alliance and, briefly, Ricky Skaggs’ Boone Creek. Moving to Los Angeles, he signed on with fiddler Byron Berline’s Sundance before joining the pop-country-rock Pure Prairie League. He followed that with a stint in the Cherry Bombs with Rodney Crowell and work backing Rosanne Cash. In 1984, he moved to Nashville and signed his first recording contract as a solo artist, occupying himself with work as a sideman in studios and onstage.

    Though several of his songs flirted with Top 10 status, Vince’s real breakthrough came in 1990 when “When I Call Your Name” reached No. 2. For the next decade, he was a steady presence in the Top 10, racking up several dozen hits that ranged from soulful country ballads (“I Still Believe in You,” “Tryin’ to Get Over You”) to feel-good country rockers (“Liza Jane” and “What the Cowgirls Do”).

    Rewarded by his peers with a long list of Country Music Association awards and Grammy trophies (the most for a male country artist), he’s sold more than 26 million albums while being hailed as a soulful singer, innovative instrumentalist, and creative force who showed a strong grasp of country traditions from bluegrass to honky tonk.

    In more recent years, Vince has settled into a unique role as one of country music’s youngest “elder statesmen.” An eloquent spokesman for the Grand Ole Opry and for the Country Music Foundation, he has headed all-star casts at prestigious venues around the country, hosted the CMA Awards for multiple years, made guest appearances onstage and on recordings with artists ranging from the world-famous to the obscure, and toured extensively.

    About the Grand Ole Opry: The Grand Ole Opry® is presented by Humana®.  Opry performances are held every Friday and Saturday of the year, with Tuesday Night Opry shows running February 16 – December 13.  To plan an Opry visit, call (800) SEE-OPRY or visit opry.com. The Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn.  Celebrating nine decades of entertainment, the Opry can be heard atopry.com and wsmonline.com, Opry and WSM mobile apps, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and its flagship home, 650 AM-WSM. The Grand Ole Opry is owned by Ryman Hospitality Properties (NYSE: RHP).  For more information, visit opry.com.

    Dierks Bentley, as you may know, is a huge hockey fan and has skated in a local Nashville league for several years. He, along with Vince Gill, Charles Kelley and Chris Young, will serve as celebrity coaches for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Music City’s Bridgestone Arena January 31ST.  The game will air live at 5pm ET on NBCSN, CBC and TVA Sports.

    The country stars will join NHL head coaches Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers, Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars, Darryl Sutter of the Los Angeles Kings and Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals behind the bench.

    The All-Stars will take part in a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, and featuring teams representing each NHL division. This marks the first time Nashville and the NHL’s Predators have hosted the NHL All-Star festivities.

    Vince has also been tasked with some extra duties, by performing the National Anthem prior to the game.

    But before Dierks puts on his coaching hat, he’s spending time at the beach this weekend, living out his new single “Somewhere on a Beach.” He’s performing during Luke Bryan’s second annual Crash My Playa event in Riviera Maya, Mexico, along with Sam Hunt, Chris Stapleton, Cole Swindell, Dustin Lynch, Brett Eldredge and Craig Campbell.

    Audio / Dierks Bentley talks about his love of playing hockey.


    Dierks Bentley (hockey) OC: …the road. :31
    “If you’ve ever played it, like you get done and you lie in the house at night and your ribcage hurts from over-expanding it, ‘cause you breathe so hard, ‘cause you’re having so much fun. You think that you’re dying, but you keep going ‘cause you’re having so much fun. So, literally the bones ache from being like stretched out because you breathe so deeply. It’s just fun, man. It’s just that camaraderie of the guys. One of the periods, I really excel in the fourth period. I do good work in periods one, two and three, but the fourth period over at the Brewhouse or Sam’s Club, I’m a good team player there. It’s one of my favorite parts of the game. I just love playing it. It’s just totally opposite from the road.”