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WAYNE MILLS (1969-2013)
Jerald Wayne Mills was born in Arab, a small Northern Alabama town perched atop Brindlee Mountain. Raised, as his official bio states, “in the Southern vernacular of God, Guns and Football,” he also grew up with the rugged Country of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. as his soundtrack.
After two years at Wallace State College, Mills transferred to the University of Alabama, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education and saws action on the field with the school’s legendary football team. In the years that followed, he concentrated on leading the Wayne Mills Band, through a residency at Tuscaloosa’s Harry’s Bar and then on tours through wider territories, opening for Blackberry Smoke, Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Travis Tritt and other headliners; earlier in his career, Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton had opened for him as they were getting off the ground.
Very early Saturday morning, Nov. 23, Mills, 44, was shot in the head during an altercation at Nashville’s Pit and Barrel. He died shortly afterward at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
A selection of videos by Mills and his band can be seen here:
(“That’s What Dancers Do,” 2010)
(“Last Honky Tonk,” 2011)