JT Gray, The Station Inn Owner, Dead at 75
JT Gray -- owner of the Station Inn, a famous bluegrass music venue in Nashville -- has died. He was 75 years old.
The Station Inn's Facebook page shared the news of Gray's death on Sunday (March 21). He died early on Saturday morning (March 20), 40 years after buying the club in 1981. Gray himself was also a bluegrass musician.
"[Gray] thoughtfully rais[ed] The Station Inn as a home for musicians and fans everywhere. He bought the business in 1981 and established it as a Nashville icon loved by so many throughout the world," the Station Inn's Facebook post reads. "JT’s contributions to bluegrass music cannot be overstated."
Indeed, Gray -- who was born Earl JT Gray on March 7, 1946, in Corinth, Miss., and moved to Nashville in 1971 -- is a Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame member (he was inducted in 2020). Less than one week before his death, on March 14, Gray presented the Best Country Album trophy to Miranda Lambert during the 2021 Grammy Awards; the Station Inn was one of several small clubs featured during the all-genre awards show, in an effort to spotlight some of the music venues that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Station Inn is currently the subject of an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville: The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon shares the history of the venerable venue, established by a group of bluegrass musicians in 1974. Originally located near Centennial Park on the west side of Nashville, the Station Inn moved to its current location, at 402 12th Ave. S. in what's now known as the Gulch, in 1978. As the area has grown to include high-end shops and restaurants and high-rise hotels and office buildings, the small brick building has remained a gathering place and a source of inspiration for everyone from Vince Gill and Alison Krauss to Molly Tuttle and Dierks Bentley.
"JT Gray fostered one of the world’s great musical communities. In his quiet and modest way, he assured that bluegrass musicians had a voice and a home at the Station Inn," Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young says in a statement. "JT fathered a family bound not by blood but by the love of creation ... His legacy is one of kindness, inclusion and fundamental, unwavering decency."
On Monday (March 22), the Station Inn is closed in honor of Gray. Staff and friends are also planning a celebration of life for Gray, with details to be announced. Gray's family, meanwhile, is planning his burial.
"Just as JT would want, we will 'keep the music going,'" the Station Inn's Facebook post concludes. "JT understood and appreciated greatly the love and support of the bluegrass community, musicians and fans who became family over the years."
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