JT Gray, Longtime Owner Of Nashville’s Historic Station Inn, Dies At 75

JT Gray
Eric England

The world of bluegrass music has lost a legend.

Earl “JT” Gray, owner of the historic Station Inn, a music venue located in Nashville‘s Gulch neighborhood, has died at 75 from a pre-existing medical condition.

Station Inn was founded in 1975 by a group of bluegrass musicians who also served as the venue’s house band, and was bought by Gray in 1981. Gray then turned the venue into Nashville’s undisputed home for bluegrass music.

In the years after Gray bought the Station Inn, its stage became both a honing ground for aspiring bluegrass musicians like Alison Krauss and Vince Gill, as well as a place for the legends like Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs to do their own picking and singing.

Among the artists who have graced the stage of Gray’s Station Inn you have everybody from John Prine, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton to Dierks Bentley and Old Crow Medicine Show, who hosted a residency at the Station Inn before moving to the Ryman for their sell-out New Years Eve shows. And it’s still a place where you can see up and coming bluegrass artists like Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings.

Gray was, himself, a bluegrass musician who would often hop up on stage to sing or pick a few chords alongside the night’s other acts. But before the Station Inn became a Nashville staple for bluegrass, Gray had to drive a tour bus to keep the venue afloat.

He was eventually inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2020, and just last week Gray appeared on the Grammy Awards to present Miranda Lambert with the award for Best Country Album.

In a Facebook post announcing Gray’s death, the Station Inn remembered their owner as someone whose “contributions to bluegrass music cannot be overstated” and a man who “understood and appreciated greatly the love and support of the bluegrass community, musicians and fans who became family over the years.”

The club also announced that the Station Inn will go dark today in honor of their longtime owner, but will reopen on Tuesday to “keep the music going” as JT would want.

It is with the heaviest of hearts and deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our dear friend and Station…

Posted by Station Inn on Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Country Music Hall of Fame currently features an exhibit dedicated to the Station Inn, and after his death, tributes to Gray began pouring in from across the music world, including from the label founded by Prine, Oh Boy Records.

The Station Inn will be planning a celebration of life to honor Gray’s memory in the near future.

Rest in peace, sir. What a legend.

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