Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band Shot Fatally in Nashville

November 23, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  73 Comments


UPDATE: Spike TV Airs Episode Featuring Bar Where Wayne Mills Was Killed

***NOTE: This story has been updated. Please see further updates at bottom.

Outlaw country music singer-songwriter and performer Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band has been pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the head at 5 AM this morning outside of the Pit and Barrel bar at 515 2nd Ave in Nashville. “God be with us all in this tragedy……” was posted on Wayne’s Facebook page.

44 year-year-old Jerald Wayne Mills was at the Pit and Barrel early this morning when apparently an altercation erupted with the owner, Chris Michael Ferrell, after Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. Everyone else in the bar went outside, and later witnesses heard gunshots fired and called police. Ferrell told police he acted in self-defense.The bar owner has a valid handgun carry permit. Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills were reportedly good friends, and they were hanging out at the bar after attending the George Jones Tribute earlier in the evening.

Earlier today when reports first surfaced, Wayne Mills was mistakenly identified by witnesses as another Nashville songwriter, Clayton Mills, who has written songs for acts like Darius Rucker and Diamond Rio. Wayne was in “extremely critical condition” all day. Wayne’s manager J.R. Smith earlier this evening posted, “It is so hard for me right now to post this. Wayne was shot early this morning by a club owner in Nashville. Things aren’t looking good right now. Please send prayers to Wayne and his family.”

READ: Circumstances of Wayne Mills’ Death Leave Many Questions

Wayne Mills is originally from the very small town of Arab in Northern Alabama. He attended Wallace State Junior College as a baseball player, and eventually played football for the University of Alabama. Mills earned his degree in education and formed the Wayne Mills Band which became one of the hottest college bands on the honky tonk circuit.

Though Mills never rose to become a household name, his influence on country music cannot be overstated. He was close personal friends with Jamey Johnson, and was on tour with Jamey just last week, playing shows in New Orleans and Tuscaloosa. Jamey once opened for Wayne when he was making his way up in the ranks, so did future CMA Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton, and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. Mills also shared the stage with Blackberry Smoke, and toured both Europe and Australia during his 15-plus years of touring experience. Mills received the Guardian Award by the Outlaw Music Hall of Fame just last month to recognize his “hard work and unwavering commitment to their music and their fans and best exemplify the tradition of those who came before.”

Wayne Mills is survived by his wife Carol, and son Jack. A fund has been set up for those wanting to donate to Wayne and his family.

UPDATE (11-24-13 12:35 PM CST): An episode of the Spike TV bar series Bar Rescue that features both the Pit and Barrel bar and bar owner Chris Ferrell is set to air tonight, 11-24. Friends and family of Wayne Mills have asked that the show not air as scheduled. The episode reportedly depicts Chris Ferrell acting out, and he is told to remove the guns from the bar. No update from Spike TV has been given at the moment on whether they intend to air the episode, or not. A petition has been set up to try and stop the airing of the episode.

UPDATE (11-24-13 3:27 PM CST): According to Spike TV, the network has decided to not air their episode on the Pit and Barrel scheduled to air tonight.

Numerous country artists have been tweeting their sadness at the passing of Wayne Mills, and the support for his family. Blake Shelton tweeted out last night, “Extremely sad to hear about the death of my old friend Wayne Mills… Rest in peace brother. Love you Carol.” Jamey Johnson tweeted out R.I.P @WayneMillsBand such a sad day.

UPDATE 11-24-13 11:55 PM CST): On Sunday night Fox 17 in Nashville aired an in-depth report about the shooting that included footage and interviews from a gathering of Wayne Mills friends. In the report, a picture surfaced that shows Wayne Mills and Chris Ferrell in the same photograph, with Ferrell casually showing a gun. Chris Ferrell is 3rd from the left with the gun, and Wayne Mills is peering over the crowd in the near right of the photo.

Ferrell has also been arrested twice for driving on a suspended license, though both charges were later dismissed. Wayne Mills also has an arrest history. He was charged with driving under the influence and for reckless endangerment when he grazed a police officer on the highway in 2010.

UPDATE 11-25-13 6:20 PM CST): The sister of Wayne Mills, Paula Lemons spoke to an Alabama Fox affiliate about the shooting.

“I want the truth and I want this man to be held responsible for his actions….I want him to know that in five seconds he changed so many lives that can’t be undone. I trust God. I don’t understand it but I trust God and I know that God loved Wayne more than anyone on this earth….He always wanted to play for Alabama. It was his dream and he made it come true. He was a walk-on and got to play. And then while he was going to Alabama, he starting picking the guitar and he started playing music….He was very funny and loved his family and his friends.”

73 Comments to “Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band Shot Fatally in Nashville”

  • Hoping for a speedy recovery!


    • Read much?


      • The original version of this article indicated he was in serious condition. Obviously it’s been updated, but a few people posted before the update.


        • Gotcha, thanks for the clarification.


  • oh boy. Hope he is ok


  • We will miss Wayne! Prayers for Carol and Little Jack as they mourn the loss. Hope justice is served to Chris Ferrell!




    • My thoughts too Jennifer….Screaming self defense does not fly when someone is shot int he back of the head…PLEASE Davidson Country DA handle this correctly…


  • I hope this jackoff Chris Ferrell gets what’s coming quickly. The good always die young. Much love to the Wayne Mills family, RIP Wayne Mills


  • Such a dark day in Country Music. We lost another Outlaw… was one special guy. So hard to accept because I never got to see him perform. Just knew he could sing from the younger days.


  • R.I.P WAYNE MILLS the guilty shall not go unpunished!!!!!!!


  • Truly depressing. May Wayne Mills rest in peace and may his family find comfort in these dark days.


  • Shooting a man in the back of the head isn’t self defense, Michael Ferrell. God rest your soul, Wayne. He’ll get his.


  • Been years since the old days at Harry’s Bar but still like losing a close friend. Our prayers are with his family.


  • Wayne was very special to our family. We treasure our memories of him and offer our deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of Wayne’s family.


  • WOW, What a tragedy :'(
    So sorry for his family and close friends.
    Hope justice is served .


  • We love you Cuz! Carol and Jack we love you and are praying for you!!!


  • R.I.P. Wayne. :(


  • Dean & I are still in shock.Wayne was an awesome person, entertainer, & friend. We met Wayne in T Town & Dean help him get started in the music industry. So proud of what he acomplished.we will miss Wayne forever. We loved him like a son.


  • That’s so sad.


  • Very sad to hear. Covered Crossin Dixie last night and who would have known. God please help his family.


  • rip when will we learn to live without guns?


    • When will you learn to wait until someone’s body is cold and the facts come out before using a tragedy to promote a political agenda.


  • I’m a huge Wayne Mills fan and this is a terrible tragedy.

    However, I think everyone in the comment section who is screaming for Ferrell’s blood (and all these posts are getting the most likes) should just wait for the facts to come out. There are no accounts of him being shot in the “back of the head” and unless you are a witness, you don’t know what happened.

    Just because someone is a great artist, does not mean that he couldn’t have put someone in imminent harm. Granted it was several years ago, but almost everyone in the comment section of this site was adamant that Billy Joe Shaver’s must have used justified self-defense.

    The one news report I saw said there were conflicting witness statements. I’m sure once there is an autopsy and people sober up, we will get a better idea of what happened.

    In the meantime, I suggest praying for his family and contributing to the fund


    • And, it occurs to me that some people may have known Wayne personally and so are assuming there is no case for self-defense b/c they know him as a great guy. In those cases, I’m sorry for your loss.

      But, there are good people who do bad things when they are drunk or in some circumstances.

      Again, I’m not saying that this was, or even likely was, the case with Wayne. However, don’t know the facts and so we can wait a couple days before passing judgment on Ferrell.


    • I’m going to have something about this tomorrow (Sunday).


    • I wouldn’t believe a damn thing the witnesses had to say anyway! They could not get their story straight on WHO got shot, causing him to be alone for 10 hours! That is fact, read the reports. They “went outside” when the guys were arguing, so no witness account of the self defense story! This owner is known as a hothead, which should come to light soon. Tonight show on spike tv might help show that as well. At the very least he should have been arrested pending investigation! Instead, the crime scene was trampled all over since the bar was open for business as usual last night!
      Don’t tell me it was investigated already, it could not have been done right, since no one knew any of the true facts until the bar was already back open for business! Check the time that the police retracted the story. Check the time that others were posting that the owner was back working like nothing had happened!


  • I knew Wayne ..until the whole story comes out chill..he was known
    To start shit as well as being good dude! Drinking changes people


  • Hope there are cameras in that bar, otherwise Wayne will never have a voice in this matter. Also, seems as though a Chris M Ferrell has a violence charge that was dismissed in Davidson County in Sept. Wonder what that was about???
    Prayers for his family and friends!


  • Sorry, but an unarmed person being shot in the head is a bit much. I don’t need to be a witness to know that. What happened to just taking an ass kicking. I’ve known and played music with Wayne for over 10 years and I have stood toe to toe with him screaming at him over various things (Wayne was well over six feet, I’m barely over five) and no guns were pulled… Sorry people, but it IS that simple!!!



      Every year nearly 1000 people are murdered by people who are using “personal weapons,” which is defined as “Hands, fists, feet, pushed, etc/” Additionally, there are several hundred murders with blunt object and thousands with knives.

      I wouldn’t expect those people to just “take a beating,”

      Again, I’m not saying that’s what happened to Wayne. There are hundreds of thousands of bar fights each year that don’t escalate to anything that serious, but you can’t say “Wayne didn’t have a gun, case closed.”

      There apparently were witnesses, and there will also be an autopsy, and I would hope that the police had someone examine Ferrell.


      • What happened to just taking an ass kicking.

        “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

        Some of us can’t kick ass back because of gimp arms or legs. I am one of those people. If someone proceeds to haul off and start hitting me for whatever reason, I will not sit there and “just take” it, and fuck you and everybody else who thinks that I should.


  • I’m from about 20minutes down the road from arab and a lot of my friends were close to wayne here are a few statusest from my facebook I thought you guys would find interesting

    So tomorrow… Bar Rescue will air an episode on SpikeTV featuring Pit & Barrell where our friend Wayne Mills was fatally shot and killed.

    Call 310-907-2400 please share this is the number to spike tv to voice your opinion of tomorrow nights episode please pass and share and tag more people please spread the word and prayers to Carol and Jack

    The show airing will actually make a case against Chris
    He goes off on camera, and he was told to remove the guns from the bar.
    They should air it, and add a statement at the end about what happened, and donate the advertising revenue to Wayne’s family


    • Thank you. I am going to repost this.


    • The episode came out last year, when the bar had a different name, and (at least based on watching the first 5 minutes of the episode) a different owner.

      The episode was called “Bikini Bust” If you look at Spike’s schedule, even though they are airing almost a dozen episodes of the show today, that episode is not airing

      Nonetheless, I’ve noticed all over facebook and in all the articles about this tragedy, people are telling everyone to complain to Spike.

      It’s possible they pulled it after the complaints, but I suspect that this is just a case of everyone understandably upset about Wayne’s death and looking for an excuse to do something.

      If you feel compelled to do something, contribute to the memorial fund instead of demanding Spike pull a show that aired over a year ago.


      • I take this back. I was googling the bar rescue and saw headlines about a shooting at a bar featured on the show yesterday but I read too quickly and it was a different shooting at a different bar.

        Anyway, given that I was on a high horse about learning the facts etc. before posting stuff on the internet, this makes me look really stupid, so mea culpa.

        Anyway, I guess Bar Rescue does not have a great record…


      • Mike, that was a different episode of Bar Rescue that wasn’t taped in Nashville. The last two episodes were in Murfreesboro and, incidentally, tonight is the scheduled debut of “Music City Mess,” which is the Pit & Barrel episode. I was at the filming and this Chris guy was wearing a militia t-shirt, had shooting targets on the wall with bullet holes in them, a sign encouraging patrons to bring their guns to the bar… This guy is a clown and now a murderer. I hope they air the episode so that people can see for themselves. Guns, booze, and ignorance do not mix. My prayers go out to the family and friends of Wayne Mills. This was totally unnecessary and clearly the product of incredibly poor judgment, to say the least.


        • I was friends with Chris on Face Book for a couple years and finally deleted him. He’s a scumbag and he thought he was hot sh*t. Constantly doing drugs and drinking…he needs to be locked up and throw away the key!!


  • My family and myself met him when he played in Prattville this last summer. Great guy, down to earth, didn’t talk down to us, he was just a guy that happen to have a guitar and knew how to sing with it. It is so easy for us to jump to conclusions and pass judgment at times like this. What we have to remember: we DO NOT have the facts and most important, his family will be able to read this one day, is this what we want his child to read when he decides to google his father from people that call themselves fans and friends? Yes it is very sad that an argument over a smoking section could end up in the loss of a life (as reported in the news last night) but we were not there nor to we know anyone that was inside. We need to use our energy and words to reflect on his life, his music, and pray for his wife, family, and band. Rest in peace Wayne. We were honored to meet you and call you a friend.


  • Wayne was a great person,friend and band-mate! Wayne Mills you will be missed by many! My thought’s and prayers are with his family and may justice be served here or in the afterlife! I Love you Brother!


  • R.I.P. Mr. Wayne. You didn’t live long enough to be at the last honky – tonk…


  • It is a shame that this man had to be shot over smoking a damn cigarette. I am sending up prayers to his wife and child, Hope this Chris Ferrell guy is brought to justice. RIP Wayne Mills.


  • Self-defense…really? Local news reports say patrons heard multiple shots.

    One shot or multiple shots in the air would have been enough to stop a bar fight.
    He could’ve shot the lights out …he didn’t have to shoot anything…..Where was the bouncer?

    It’s doubtful the owner will be opening this bar up again. If he walks….I wouldn’t want my shadow to darken the door of where he is working. I think the bar will close.

    An unarmed man against an armed man. A bar owner who takes aim at someone’s head….self-defense…no way.


    • Multiple shots – No Way? Not saying it was, but it seems that Wayne was quite a large man, and he had a mean streak… so if I was a bar owner facing someone like this (after a night of drinking) I wouldn’t have too much of an issue defending my right to carry, and pull a gun if necessary – what if Wayne reached for the gun and a struggle ensued – that could easily explain multiple shots, the shot to the head – and the self defense claim.
      Let the investigators do their job before making uninformed comments – no one is served by off the cuff comments.


  • One article said he was shot in the Back of his head.If so how can that be SelfDefence.?


    • Do you have a link to that article?


  • I obviously don’t know all the details, but you would think that just by pulling a gun out would be sufficient enough for a self defense situation. A home invasion aside, I don’t know how you can just take aim at someone’s head.


  • Before everyone gets on the “ban guns” bandwagon, What DAVE said on here is true. Mills, liked to fight and knew of several stories of him acting out in Bars. So lets let the truth come out before we get the lynch mob.


    • “Before everyone gets on the “ban guns” bandwagon,…”

      I see scant evidence of that here.


  • ~~~Wayne Mills Killed Over a Cigarette~~~
    I’m very saddened to learn of the death of my VERY good friend, Wayne Mills, who was shot in the back of the head by the owner, Chris Ferrell, at 5am yesterday morning just for lighting a cigarette in a smoke-free bar that was already closed…but quite a few people were still hanging out before leaving.

    The owner, Chris Ferrell and Wayne were very good friends too. This is so senseless. The way I came to know Wayne 7yrs ago…he wanted to cut my song, “The Corner of Heaven and Hell” after hearing me sing it at Spanky’s on Nolensville Road here in Nashville.

    His band was doing a gig there and I asked the bass player if I could get up and sing on their break. He told me, “You’ll have to ask that little guy over there.” I looked over and saw this cat sitting on a bar stool and was still as tall as me, and I’m 6’4″…and he was sitting down. I went up and introduced myself and I knew I had instantly made myself a good friend. He stood up and just towered over me…he stood 2″-3″ taller…I know that’s not “towering” but it was his broad structure that made him so large to me. He looked like he could bite your head off and would in a heartbeat…but he was as kind to me as a man could be.

    I asked him if I could do a song or two…and he said he’d get me up later. Well, I told him I’d rather get up alone. That’s when he handed me his Martin and went back to sit at the bar and finish his beer. He really seemed a little worn down from the road too. Well, I got up and I didn’t do any covers, I did my own stuff. And right off the bat, he turned his head, then completely turned around to face me…and applauded very loudly to every song I did. In fact, I not only sang 3 songs…then was about to get off stage and he wanted me play another one, then another, then another…and on and on. I think I played for an hour or so, just me and my guitar and he and his band made me feel so welcomed and truly became a friend of mine for life. Like my long lost brother. And because of what his bass player called him, every time I’d see him out at a club, I’d sneak up behind him and turn the other way and holler, “Hey squirt…you gonna buy me a beer or am I gonna have to whoop your scrawny ass?” He’d turn around and start chasing me around the bar…or just let out his very loud belly laugh. It was contagious. He was contagious. You couldn’t help but love him. I know I couldn’t.

    Anyway…I’ve lost a dear friend that was like a brother to me. He was gone on the road a lot, but he was always just a phone call away. Whenever I’d get down, I’d call him. He’d either lift me up by telling me how good I was or he would make me feel better because he felt worse.

    Well Wayne, you made it to the party in the sky before I did. I’m not sure who’s the luckier one my brother. I’m sitting her like a little bitch crying my eyes out. You’d punch me a gooden too, then we’d be rollin on the floor man, like the big kids we are. But you’ll have to wait for me, not sure how long or how soon…but I’m pretty sure God just might let me in. And hey, if I can’t pay the cover charge, can I tell Him, “I’m with the band.”? I’ll bring a bottle with me too. We’ll share one last shot…then get onto what Jesus has in store for us in heaven. I wanna hear some new ones too when I get there. I’ll have a few for you too.

    I love you man. And hey…that woman that tried to come between us. She may have never meant a thing to me or you, but think about it, if it wasn’t for her…we may have never become as close as we are. You may be in heaven, but brother…you’re right here with me right now.

    Love ya bro. We all love ya. I’m not sure what to do about the guy that did this. But I guess I can’t be the police too. I’ll let God and karma take care of it I guess.

    Gotta run brother. I hear a song with your name on it calling me. I love you Wayne.


    • Where did you get the info that he was shot in the back of the head? I’ve read numerous articles, and yours is the only one to make that claim…


  • Perhaps he should have been at home with his wife and young son rather than drinking and fighting in a bar at 5am. Just a thought.


    • And a very callous thought it is.


      • May seem callous but I bet his wife is thinking the same thing today. Sensless


  • I am among the many lucky enough to have called Wayne Mills a friend. I spoke to him Friday afternoon, hours before he was shot. We were planning a short tour together in January. A HUGE loss. Wayne was amazing, both as a musician and as a person. Nothing short of a tragedy. Rest peacefully brother.


  • @This Guy – Nobody wants to say it,but I agree.One things for sure,nothing GOOD is going to happen with you at a bar at 5 am.You’re hurting SOMEBODY..,if not anyone IN the bar,then the people at home who love you are hurt from you BEING IN A BAR AT 5 AM! (As a son who grew up with an alcoholic Father,trust me on this)

    I’m not saying the man deserved to be shot,but if you’re still in a bar at 5am instead of with your family,you obviously have a few problems.I feel so sorry for this family.


  • That was kinda my point. My father was an alcoholic and dies senselessly as well. Thanks


  • Same here….the ol days at Harrys….known for over 20 yrs. Prayers from Northport, Al.


  • I see Bar Rescue did not air the episode. Good call.


  • I see everyone has an opinion about late nights and alcohol. Maybe I shouldn’t drive a car for fear of wrecking and dang sure could consume less pork too! A good man lost his life and a family is suffering. Have an opposing opinion if you must….but you never know what tomorrow brings…


  • Was watching Bar Rescue when I was wondering “I wonder how that bar is doing with a jackass like that running it?” So I googled it and stumbled on this! So saf! RIP. Praying for his family and loved ones.


  • Wayne was a very nice guy, I own a club and he played at the club several times
    Wake up people there is more to life than 9 to 5 i own a bar and have been in business 25 yrs and have had to work until 5am 3 nights a week the whole time
    so just because your in a bar at 5am and your not living the hours that most people do
    most think your up to no good, but there is 24 hours in a day and some people work at night, if you here the facts he played that night and went there for an after party
    something all you people do in life you just might be doing it at 7pm which makes it no less or more dangerous. Just pisses me off when i read people making comments about what is he doing out at 5am, its a way of life to a lot of people


  • I read that he and some friends had gone to the George Jones tribute concert on Friday, did then some bar hopping after the show, and ended up at the Pit and Barrell. From what I’ve heard, it was a great show. I dont want to be an apologist, but is it that strange that after such a special event honoring who many folks consider the greatest country singer of all time, a hard core honky tonker might want to hit up some bars with his friends?

    Here’s something I’m having trouble with. Why would a bar owner get so upset about someone smoking in a non-smoking area AFTER the bar was closed? Maybe there’s a valid reason.


  • They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the photo of all the guys having a good time except some fake alpha male, touting a hard-on made of gun powder and steel. Any douche bag that poses with a “gun” in a photo and doesn’t have a rack of horns in his hands is asking for this kind of outcome…killing your buddy. Way to go!

    I’m not going to speculate on the incident.

    Bar owner guy liked to show his “bad ass” image with guns. You don’t flash guns around as trophies of your manhood.

    Prayers to the Mills family and his good friends.


  • Stupid, stupid, stupid, … all the way ’round. From his website:

    “Outlaw by definition is one that is unconventional or rebellious. Wayne Mills by definition is one that is a stiff-necked country troubadour with an affinity for Honky-tonks and possessing a style of rustic simplicity.

    From the little town of Arab, nestled on top of Brindlee Mountain in Northern Alabama, Wayne Mills was the average country boy steeped in the Southern vernacular of GOD, GUNS AND FOOTBALL.”

    Just another day in America.



  • I think the more you stir in shit the more it stinks everyone should be celebrating this great talents life and leave the rest to the justice system….his family should be respected enough to grieve without all the speculations and drama that go along with the media and this

    horrible tragedy ……….prayers for all his family and friends and may the good lord take care of the rest!


  • Why wasn’t Chis Ferrell taken downtown for questioning? Why has Chris Ferrell not been arrested? Why did the Nashville police not list Chris Ferrell’s domestic violence charge as a prior? Why are the Nashville Police afraid of Chris Ferrell? We want answers!! Citizens of Nashville, you are not safe!!!
    I predict something bad happening to Chis Ferrell,, just say’n.


  • Has there been any updates to this story? The investigation is surely complete and autopsy was scheduled for last Tuesday. I am hoping there is a follow up and closure for this family. An arrest, a justification as to why it was self defense or a decision to send it to the Grand Jury would be nice. I hope that someone stays on this story for those of us watching for news.


  • Horrible tragedy im not here to speculate but for the comment of somebody sitting on ur chest doin a ground and pound with ur arm pinned there is no possible way to shoot someone in the back of the head angle would b to extreme he going to b leand forward from waist slightly to beat ur damn head in u might in a freak accid ent hit a shoulder blade or back. Iv made a pass time of fighting and i dare to put someone my size on ur chest and find a way to shoot me in the back off the head iv been to jail fewtimes my self there is no way in hell either party goes home if he is an informant the people of nashville need to come together aginst the precinct handling the case or im afraid the truth of the investigation will never come to light above all my prayers go to his wife and son only closure and time can heal these wounds


  • Gary,
    This is Gary Craig, I played bass for Wayne for 5 years starting in 2008. I didn’t get a chance to meet you at the funeral yesterday but I wanted to tell you that I appreciate everything you’ve done for the Mills family and I know Wayne would be so proud to have the Guardian Award named after him. That really got to me.


Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Modern Roots
Best Of Lists