He gave my music definition," said Gill, for whom Mr. Hughey played steel in the studio and on the road for 12 years. "His introduction to 'Look At Us' makes that song recognizable by what happens before any words even get sung." Gill called one evening and asked Mr. Hughey what he was doing.
"I was just sitting down to my last bowl of ice cream," Mr. Hughey said. Gill replied, "No, I mean professionally."
Soon, Mr. Hughey was in the studio, playing the luminous part on "Look At Us," and then he agreed to become part of Gill's touring band. His 12 years with Gill were in fact like one long, last bowl of ice cream, with Mr. Hughey bringing the sound of significant steel to a broader audience.
"I know it was a real great stretch of life for him, from a respect level," Gill said. "I think he felt like a king because we treated him as such. He was royalty to us." Another top name in Country Music Marty Stuart once heard a familiar steel sound at the Legend's Corner club, and he poked his head in just as a song was ending. He saw Mr. Hughey onstage, and before Stuart could say anything, Mr. Hughey looked at him, grinned and explained, "Because I love it."