Vince Gill's 2011 album Guitar Slinger features a tribute to steel guitar virtuoso John Hughey -- a member of Gill's band for nearly 20 years and a dear friend of the artist's -- who passed away in 2007. In "Buttermilk John," Gill salutes the renowned musician whose real-life love story ... well, makes for the perfect country song. Below, Gill explains the inspiration for the tune.

"Buttermilk John" was a song I wrote in tribute to John Hughey. John was a steel guitar player who played on my records for nearly 20 years. Everything that you heard me do after "When I Call Your Name" was John ... He really gave my music great definition.

He was probably even more known in the days he played with Conway Twitty in the '60s and '70s. He was a world-class musician, and we were great friends. I wanted to honor him with a song, and his nickname was 'Buttermilk John' because he loved buttermilk and cornbread.

His wife, Miss Jean, is one of the dearest souls that ever lived, and it was that love that they had for each other ... They stayed sweethearts their whole marriage, and they held hands everywhere they went. If John wanted to go to Wal-mart, Jean went with him; if Jean wanted to go somewhere, John would go with her.

They were a beautiful couple. And she struggles every day since he's been gone. There hasn't been one day that she doesn't go visit his grave. So I wrote that about them, to let her know that I loved John like she did.

This story was originally written by Beville Dunkerley, and revised by Angela Stefano.

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