Nashville council rejects proposed sign for Morgan Wallen's new bar, decrying his behavior

By AP News


Nashville councilmembers have rejected a plan to erect a glowing sign at Morgan Wallen’s new bar along a neon-lit strip of honky tonks in the city's downtown

People Morgan Wallen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville councilmembers have rejected plans for a glowing sign to be erected at Morgan Wallen's new bar along the city's neon-lit strip of honky tonks, citing his use of a racial slur that caused controversy in 2021 and recent criminal charges accusing the country star of throwing a chair off a rooftop near two police officers.

The Nashville Metro Council voted 30-3 Tuesday evening against the proposed sign at Morgan Wallen's This Bar & Tennessee Kitchen, which is set to open this weekend. The sign would have hung over a public sidewalk, similar to those at many neighboring bars. Such a sign requires local government approval and usually isn't a controversial process.

During debate, councilmembers called Wallen's comments hateful and his actions harmful. They also said the performer has received multiple second chances.

“I don’t want to see a billboard up with the name of a person who is throwing chairs off of balconies and who is saying racial slurs,” said Councilmember Delishia Porterfield, who is Black.

Councilmember Jacob Kupin presented the proposal, but said he “thought long and hard” about what to do because of Wallen's behavior. He said the third-party organization managing the business, TC Restaurant Group, has been “really, a good partner” and has worked to make downtown Nashville safer.

The Associated Press reached out to Wallen's publicist and TC Restaurant Group seeking comment on the council vote.

“The fact that someone’s name is going up on a bar doesn’t mean that we condone all the behavior, but again I appreciate the efforts to make amends, the positive response, and again, the operator themselves I don’t think should be penalized for what happened,” Kupin said.

An initial hearing in Wallen's criminal case was postponed until Aug. 15. According to an arrest affidavit, the chair that Wallen is accused of throwing off the roof of the six-story Chief’s bar on April 7 landed about a yard (meter) from two police officers. Witnesses told officers they saw Wallen pick up a chair, throw it off the roof and laugh about it.

He is facing three felony counts of reckless endangerment and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

In a statement issued by Wallen, he said he accepted “responsibility” and was “not proud” of his behavior. The statement mentioned making “amends” and touching base with law enforcement.

Wallen's “One Thing at a Time” album spent 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 in 2023 and was the most-consumed album in the U.S. last year. Top 10 hits from the album included “Last Night,” “You Proof” and “Thinkin’ Bout Me.”

In 2021, Wallen was suspended indefinitely from his label after video surfaced of him shouting a racial slur, which he would later say was ignorant of him to use.

Kid Rock's bar, not far from Wallen's new establishment, was the site of an earlier sign controversy. Ahead of a 2019 vote, some councilmembers bemoaned the design featuring a giant guitar in which the base of the instrument is intentionally shaped like a woman’s buttocks. Ultimately, they approved it.


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