On November 23rd, Outlaw country music artist Wayne Mills was shot & killed at the Pit & Barrell Bar in Nashville, TN by the bar’s owner, Chris Ferrell. After a prolonged investigation, Ferrell was eventually indicted by a Grand Jury on 2nd degree murder charges and then released on bond December 16th and is currently awaiting trial.
One of the reasons the shooting death of Wayne Mills was so tragic is because of where Wayne was in his career when the killing occurred, and where he was going. Mills released a total of six albums during his career, but the only one that continues to be readily available and widely distributed is his last release from 2010, The Last Honky Tonk. But that is not the last album Wayne Mills made. When he was killed, he had just finished up a brand new album called Long Hard Road, and was actively working on getting the album released and distributed.
Long Hard Road was not just another Wayne Mills album. This was the album that Wayne was hoping would be a game changer in his career. It was a collaboration with legendary producer Denny Diante, and the 12-track album included 7 songs co-written by Wayne, with an impressive list of songwriting contributors including Wayne Mills friend Jamey Johnson, Brent Cobb, and Erica “Sunshine” Lee. Press materials had even been drafted and distributed for Long Hard Road . The press release for the album states,
Songs featured on the album include the upbeat “I Need the Country” with a sing-along chorus, the hard-hitting outlaw anthem “Whiskey Bent and Jail Bound” and the title track “Long Hard Road” which tells the lonesome tale of a man making bad decisions and working through the consequences. “My music is the combination of my country roots with the real world I have come to know,” explains Mills. Long Hard Road is a chapter in the songbook of Wayne Mills’ life: leaving no stone unturned when it comes to lyric and life.
Since the death of Wayne Mills, interest in his music and career have dramatically increased, but Long Hard Road remains unreleased and its future somewhat uncertain as the Wayne Mills family and Wayne’s close associates deal with more pressing matters in the aftermath of his passing. But just because Wayne Mills is no longer with us does not mean Wayne is done forging his music legacy, and that his now much larger fan base don’t have new music to look forward to.