Nashville council rejects Morgan Wallen's bar sign over singer's questionable behavior

Morgan Wallen’s new bar won’t feature one of those neon signs that are ubiquitous among downtown Nashville honky-tonks.

Nashville’s Metro Council this week rejected the “Whiskey Glasses” singer’s request to install such a sign bearing his name outside of Morgan Wallen’s This Bar & Tenessee Kitchen, which is set to open over Memorial Day weekend.

“I don’t want to see a billboard up with the name of a person who’s throwing chairs off of balconies and who is saying racial slurs,” Delishia Porterfield, council member at large, said during the Tuesday council meeting.

Wallen came under fire for using a slur in 2021, which put his career into free fall and saw him banned, albeit temporarily, from the nation’s two largest radio networks and a TV network, pulled from music-streaming services and suspended by his record label.

While his double album “Dangerous” and 2023 follow-up “One Thing at a Time” burned up the charts in the background, Wallen’s reputation slowly recovered — until he was arrested in April after allegedly throwing a chair off of the six-story rooftop of Chief’s, the Nashville bar and music venue co-owned by country singer and Wallen business partner Eric Church. The chair landed three feet away from police officers on a sidewalk below, and the superstar was later arrested on three felony counts of reckless endangerment and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

Other council members who spoke out Tuesday said their “no” votes were driven by Wallen’s history of comments that were “hateful” and “racist”; the singer was captured on a neighbor’s Ring camera calling a friend by the n-word in his driveway after a night of drinking.

One council member remarked that she was voting no in part because, in her words, Wallen had pledged to give money “to the NAACP for funding” and then did not. Rolling Stone had published a report in late 2021 saying Wallen had reneged on his commitment to donate $500,000 to various Black-led groups and organizations, but USA Today subsequently reported that Wallen and his team had, in fact, donated the majority of the funds as promised.

Jacob Kupin, a council member who voted yes on the measure, acknowledged that Wallen’s behavior was concerning but said he would support the sign because the company that is operating the bar had been a reliable business partner. “It struck me that we’re putting up a sign with someone’s name on it who has not been a good actor downtown,” he said.

Wallen has attempted to make amends for the chair-tossing incident. An initial court hearing has been postponed until Aug. 15.

“I’ve touched base with Nashville law enforcement, my family, and the good people at Chief’s. I’m not proud of my behavior, and I accept responsibility,” the singer wrote on X.

For the time being, it seems the Metro Council isn’t convinced.

Times freelance writer Holly Gleason contributed to this report.

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