You can't say you know country music and admit you never heard of Vince Gill.
The Country Music Hall of Famer has been a big name in the business for the past 25 years. He has sold more than 26 million albums and has received 20 Grammy Awards, 18 Country Music Association Awards, six Academy of Country Music Awards and countless special honors, including membership in the Grand Ole Opry and receiving The Home Depot Humanitarian Award for his philanthropic work.
Gill plans to bring his classic country guitar sound and tenor voice to the Savannah Music Festival on March 28. And now that he knows his former bandmate, Ricky Skaggs, will perform the day before him, he says he "may have to show up a day early."
Gill says he grew up around Oklahoma City and was urged into music at an early age by his father.
"He loved it," Gill says. "I think that's why anyone gets into anything. He loved to play and his mother played ... and it didn't cost anything to do it."
He admits he will pick up "anything with strings on it to make a noise," but he prefers to play guitar and he has no idea how many guitars he has in his collection at home.
"I have way too many," he laughs. "But they are all beautiful, and it's a pretty crazy collection ... with a little bit of everything. I love them and I love that they have a home that loves music."
Going to concerts and playing gigs at local bars and bluegrass festivals became a big part of Gill's daily routine after he turned 15.
"My dad took me to my first concert, which was Chet Atkins, when I was a kid," he says. He explains that he and his wife, singer Amy Grant, enjoy asking people, "What was the first concert that you went to where you bought your own ticket?"
"Mine was Paul Revere and the Raiders," he admits.
Gill's own concerts have become something of a legend among fans who get a chance to listen to him play live for several hours.
"That goes back to all the years when I was the first act or second act, and I was told to play 30 minutes or 40 minutes," he explains. "Something I told myself 30-plus years ago was, 'When I get my chance, I'm gonna play as long as I want.'
"The first question I always ask before I go on stage is how long do I get to play, not how long do I have to play.
"I have so many songs I want to play. I guess I have a little bit of Springsteen in me - the hillbilly version, of course," he says with a laugh.
Gill says one of the best experiences he has had in the past years as a guitarist is being a part of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival.
"It's crazy; everybody you love is playing," he says. "It's not just one guy or two guys who are great - it's everybody there.
"When (Clapton) called in 2004, I didn't believe it was him," Gill says. "He says he only invited guitar players he likes. He wasn't trying to load up on famous names, he just wanted to have a guitar festival.
"I was really flattered I was one of them. It's one of my favorite things I ever got to do.
"It's not so much about playing, either. My favorite part of the festival is you get stand on the side of the stage and watch guitar player after guitar player after guitar player.
"And through that festival, I've made friends and collaborations with greats like Joe Bonamassa, Joe Winters and Sonny Landreth."
Another new project for Gill that has brought him back to his bluegrass roots is his performance with the 11-piece band known as The Time Jumpers.
"It's a fun thing," he says. "It's a bunch of guys who got started mostly as session players, playing on everybody's records, who just wanted to have fun and play western swing music. We started playing on Monday nights and little by little, we added to the group. We've been doing it for about four years and I just love it.
"It a fun thing to do on Monday night and I'm not the focal point. I get to be the musician I always tried to be."
Gill says he's looking forward to getting back to Savannah for his performance at the music festival.
"It's a beautiful city," he says.
Gill will bring a high-caliber group of musicians along with him for his performance, too.
"It's the usual band I've had for quite some time," he says. "Some of these friendships go back 20-plus years."
He says he will bring along Paul Franklin, on steel guitar, who is also part of The Time Jumpers. Franklin and Gill also recently released Gill's first duet record titled "Bakersfield," a new album that pays tribute to their musical heroes, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
Willie Weeks, on bass, has toured with Eric Clapton for several years and the Doobie Brothers. Billy Thomas, on drums, has played with Gill for the past 25 years. Pete Wasner, on keyboards, has been writing songs with Gill for more than 25 years. Jeff White, on guitar and harmony vocals, has performed with Gill for 24 years. And Dawn Sears, on backup vocals, is the only female singer, with The Time Jumpers.
"She's a great singer," he adds.
So what's next for Gill?
He says he is working on a new record of his own and producing an album for up-and-comer Ashley Monroe, who performed in Savannah with country star Hunter Hayes on his Crazy tour.
"I'm going to produce my first record and I'm working on a new one," he says. "I haven't changed; it's the same old stuff and I'm just trying to figure out stuff along the way."