Several years ago I was introduced to a feller by the name of Wayne Mills. He was opening up for Jamey Johnson in concert. That led to a good friendship since that day. I was fortunate to have met his wife and son when he did a show in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He was always talking about his family and how much he loved them. Every time we’d see each other at shows or events, he had a story to tell me about his family.
Laughter, jokes, and kindhearted are words to describe Wayne. He had the biggest smile and the biggest heart. When he found out about my grandparents passing, he picked up the phone and called to see how I was doing and to offer prayers. Any time I saw him, he would always ask if I needed anything and would ask nothing in return. He was just that type of person.
Wayne Mills Photo by Jessica Blankenship
Every time I see a photo of him, I am reminded of the story of his guitar strap. Back a few years ago someone stole his guitar & personalized guitar strap. He posted on Facebook about the incident and that he needed a new strap made. I posted about my friend Cody Hixon who has done guitar straps for Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, James Otto, Randy Houser, and many many many more to name. He got in contact with Cody and the next time I saw Wayne in concert, we talked afterwards. He told me the story about the guitar strap and how he never thought one would be as beautiful as that one. Every time I would see a photo of him wearing it, I’ll give Cody a holler.
And speaking of photos, when Wayne was doing press and releasing a new single, “She Knows the Words,” I got a phone call from him. He requested to use a simple black & white photo of him looking down playing his guitar. I was completely honored that he would use it for publicity and as the photo to promote the single. It is the one that you see when you purchase the song on I-tunes.
Photo by Jessica Blankenship
Yesterday afternoon, I saw a Facebook post by a friend that Wayne Mills was shot by a club owner in Nashville. I had been in that club several times over the years to see him and others whenever I visited the city. Lots of good memories shared there. Late Saturday, we would get word that Wayne would pass away from the gunshot wounds. Needless to say, it knocked a lot of us to our knees. I don’t think anyone would ever imagine something like this would happen in our tight-knit music world. Even bigger, it is amazing how many people have posted how they worked with Wayne over the years. One thing is for certain – we all have nothing but fond memories. Here is my article on Examiner.com about the incident.
Wayne Mills Band in Louisville, Kentucky – Photo by Jessica Blankenship
Words cannot express the thoughts of losing a dear friend. A lot of us are connected by our friendship with Wayne Mills. We’ve lost one of our own. We all are asking questions why. Perhaps we will find the answers soon. If there is a positive light in this tragedy, it is word that Wayne’s organs were donated to others. The gift of life is something that some take for granted. Needless to say, he was always there helping others, even in the end.
Please consider donating to the Wayne Mills Family Fund. Wayne left behind a wife, Carol, and young son, Jack. Below is a photo that I took of his son when they played at Western Kentucky University, opening for Jamey Johnson.
Wayne Mills with his son Jack playing at Western Kentucky University – Photo by Jessica Blankenship
Jessica Bray is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.