How Did Vince Gill’s Brother Die?: Unraveling the Mystery

The Tragic Tale Behind Vince Gill’s Brother.

Vince Gill, a name synonymous with heartfelt country music and soulful lyrics, has touched the hearts of millions.

But behind some of his most poignant songs lies a personal tragedy – the loss of his brother, Bob Coen.

In this article, we delve into the story that inspired Vince Gill’s tributes and explore the impact of this loss on his life and music.

Vince Gill A Life in Music and Tribute


The Bond Beyond Blood: Vince and Bob’s Early Years

Vince Gill’s early life in Norman, Oklahoma, was steeped in music, thanks to his father, J. Stanley Gill, a lawyer and part-time country musician.

Encouraged by his father, Vince learned to play multiple instruments, including banjo and guitar, which laid the foundation for his future career.

His stepbrother, Bob Coen, shared a deep musical connection with Vince, influencing his early musical direction.

This bond, though not of blood, was rooted in a shared passion for music and would leave a lasting impact on Vince’s life and work.

Together, they navigated the formative years of life and music, creating memories that would later resonate through Vince’s songs and tributes to his brother.

Vince Gill's Brother
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The Accident That Changed Everything

In 1968, Bob Coen was involved in a devastating car accident that altered the course of his life dramatically.

At the age of 22, Bob suffered severe injuries from a car wreck that resulted in a three-month-long coma.

The extent of the brain damage he sustained was beyond medical repair, profoundly affecting his cognitive abilities and leading to a life markedly different from the one he had known.

After awakening from the coma, Bob faced numerous challenges. The brain damage had lasting effects, causing him to withdraw into seclusion, distancing himself from friends and family.

His health and personal life suffered as a result, and he struggled with these consequences for the remainder of his life.

Vince Gill, who was only 11 years old at the time of his brother’s accident, witnessed the profound impact it had on Bob. This tragic event not only changed Bob’s life but also deeply affected Vince and their family.

The experience of loss and the memory of his brother’s struggles would later inspire Vince to write “It Won’t Be The Same This Year,” a song that poignantly reflects on the absence of a loved one during the holidays.

Vince also dedicated his 1993 Christmas album, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and his first special Christmas performance on live TV to the memory of his late stepbrother, Bob Coen.

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The Legacy of a Song: “Go Rest High on That Mountain”

Vince Gill’s grief found expression in his music, most notably in the song “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”

Initially inspired by the death of country star Keith Whitley, the song was completed after Bob’s passing.

It stands as a testament to Vince’s love for his brother and has become a source of solace for those mourning their loved ones.

What was the Inspiration Behind ‘Go Rest High on That Mountain’?

The inspiration behind Vince Gill’s song “Go Rest High on That Mountain” came from two significant losses in his life.

Initially, Gill started writing the song after the death of fellow country singer Keith Whitley in 1989.

The song’s first verse reflects this, with a nod to Whitley’s hit “I’m No Stranger to the Rain.”

However, Gill did not complete the song until after a personal tragedy struck – the death of his older brother, Bob Coen, from a heart attack in 1993.

Vince Gill's Brother
Vince Gill
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The song became a poignant tribute to both Whitley and his brother, capturing the grief and hope for peace after their passing.

It has since become a standard at funerals and memorial services, resonating with many who have experienced similar losses.

Vince Gill’s ability to channel his personal sorrow into a universal message of solace is what gives “Go Rest High on That Mountain” its enduring emotional power.


The story of Vince Gill and his brother Bob is a poignant reminder of the power of family bonds and the healing nature of music.

Through his tributes, Vince has not only immortalized his brother but also provided comfort to many who have faced similar losses.

The legacy of Bob Coen lives on in the chords and lyrics of Vince Gill’s timeless songs, echoing the sentiment that some bonds can never be broken, even by death.

In remembering Bob Coen, we are reminded of the fragility of life and the enduring strength of love.

Vince Gill’s journey through grief to musical tribute encapsulates the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of art in the face of tragedy.



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