2013 Outlaw Music Hall of Fame “Guardian Award” recipient
There are those who sing outlaw music and those whose existence encompass it. Wayne Mills LIVED outlaw music. He was a “stiff-necked” country troubadour with an affinity for honky tonks and rustic simplicity.
Wayne grew up, the “average country boy” in northeast Alabama, in the little hamlet of Arab (ay-rab) nestled high on top of Brindlee Mountain. His father (Jack) raised him on the values of a working man. The Mills family radio played the blue collar anthems of Hank Williams (Sr. & Jr.), Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. Little did the future performer know that the heavy beat and misfortune laden lyrics of Outlaw Country would lay the ground work for his music career.
Southern boys who grow up on top of mountains love football and baseball. While his love of sports led him to play Jr. College baseball at Wallace State, it was his desire to become more that helped him realize the dream of playing tight end for the legendary University of Alabama Crimson Tide …Roll Tide!
Wayne’s hunger to make an impact eventually led him back to his musical roots and that little family radio that sat on the kitchen counter. Thus began the outlaw experience, and honky tonk experiment, which was Wayne Mills. He not only played every reputable outlaw establishment in the Southeast United States, but nurtured several of them to their own legendary existence. While 15 years of touring experience and a huge following in the southeast proves his role as an artistic representation of a culture; Wayne was both proud and humbled that his music managed to reach out across the USA and as far away as Europe and Australia.
Mills toured, for much of his professional career, with fellow Alabamian and close friend Jamey Johnson. He played select dates with Southern rockers, Blackberry Smoke as well as headlined his own tours. A young Blake Shelton eagerly accepted the opportunity to open for Wayne on occasion. Before his Idol fame, Taylor Hicks would jump on stage with Wayne any chance he was given.
Recently Wayne was featured in the book: Outlaws Still At Large written by Professor Neil Hamilton and released in June 2013. The book chronicles the Roots of country music since the 1970’s. Professor Hamilton stated, “Wayne’s chapter was one of my favorites to write. He is such a genuine person and an incredible talent. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Wayne on a personal level and look forward to following his career.” Insert from Outlaws Still At Large:
His music will likely grow (as it still must) to reveal Wayne Mills gradually, akin to peeling the layers from an onion—the good times Wayne Mills, the frustrated [sic] Wayne Mills, the compassionate Wayne Mills, but always the true-to-himself Wayne Mills, listening to his own beat, wherever it might take him. Exactly where that might be, well, with Wayne that’s hard to predict, as he could roam the country range all the way from honky tonks to Music Row and have his feet planted in both places at once. (Hamilton, Ch. 17 – pg. 316)
Wayne’s final album The Last Honky Tonk, is receiving rave reviews all over the world and was a major milestone in an impressive music career. The Last Honky Tonk, the album’s title cut, is currently racing up the European charts. Recent polling has the single at #39 overall in Europe, with its highest position (so far) at #2 in Belgium. The video for the title cut has been aired on The Country Network and has been featured on GAC’s website in the U.S.A. Nashville producer and guitarist for Jamey Johnson … Jason “Rowdy” Cope flew Wayne to Hollywood, CA to record and produce The Last Honky Tonk. “The record that we left California with is as true to me as anything I’ve ever released,” said Wayne. “It blends my country roots with the experience of the real world I’ve come to know.” The sound … Start with Waylon, throw in some Charlie Daniels and Lynyrd Skynyrd, add a dash of Johnny Cash and mix it all up. That’s The Last Honky Tonk. That was Wayne Mills!
“Wayne Mills is an idea now. Ideas live forever when perpetuated by believers. It is the responsibility of Wayne’s army of fans to continue the idea that he has become, as well as, the music he created.”