“I trade licks with Joe on Funk 49; that’s enough for me – my head would explode if I had to go back and forth with Joe on a song like Hotel California”: Vince Gill on his role in the Eagles, and the wonders of playing with Joe Walsh

Vince Gill (left) and Joe Walsh perform onstage with the Eagles at The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee on October 29, 2017
(Image credit: Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Nashville titan Vince Gill already had a hell of a resume before he was asked to join the Eagles in 2017. As the Eagles round out their career with their appropriately-named Long Goodbye tour, though, Gill has proven himself an invaluable – if unsung – part of the band's final lineup.

Given that the Eagles currently include Joe Walsh – co-author of one of the greatest guitar solos of all time – Gill isn't typically asked to provide much in the way of electric guitar fireworks onstage; and he's quite fine with that.

Speaking to Guitar World, Gill said that just getting to play the James Gang classic Funk 49 with Walsh has been worth the price of admission in itself. 

“I trade licks with Joe on Funk 49, which is amazing,” Gill said. “That’s enough for me, and my head would explode if I had to go back and forth with Joe on a song like Hotel California.”

Gill's connection with the Eagles' music runs deep, and, the guitarist said, dates back even to childhood.    

“Some nights,” Gill told GW, “I look over to the side and see Joe Walsh while we’re playing Rocky Mountain Way, and I’m transported back to being a kid in my bedroom trying to learn that song.

“I played it at every school dance and there’s even tapes of me singing Eagles songs when I was a kid [laughs]. It’s been pretty amazing to be a part of keeping the legacy of those songs going.”

Gill also discussed his stable of Les Pauls, mentioning that the most valuable Les Paul that he takes on tour is a reissue of Eric Clapton’s 1960 “Beano” model. This would seem to imply that perhaps Gill's most valuable Les Paul, a true-blue 'Burst, is not on the road with him – and not without good reason. 

Handed down to Gill from his one-time brother-in-law, the guitar holds enormous sentimental value. 

“I bought [a] ’59 Les Paul from my brother-in-law from my first marriage [to country singer Janis Oliver],” Gill told Guitar Aficionado in 2017. “We were great friends, and he owned this great ’59 sunburst since 1959. He’d played it his whole life but got sick a couple of years ago. He called me and said, ‘There’s not much they can do for me. I’m probably not gonna make it. You’ve always been my favorite guitar player. Will you buy my Les Paul?’

“I didn’t have a sunburst Les Paul in my collection, and I previously couldn’t justify the expense because I don’t play a Les Paul that much, but this one came along and I said, ‘There you go,’” Gill continued. “I got the one I was supposed to have. My friend played it for 40 years, and now it gets to live on and still make music.”

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.