The Nashville artist reportedly had an argument with the landlord over the smoking ban

US country singer Wayne Mills has been shot dead in a Nashville bar after reportedly arguing with the owner over a smoking ban.

Police officers in Tennessee said that the bar owner Chris Ferrell shot the 44-year-old singer in the early hours of Saturday (November 23) after an argument over the musician lighting up a cigarette in the non-smoking area, Sky News reports.

Mills was rushed to hospital, but died at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, police said. Officers are investigating Ferrell’s claim that he opened fire in self-defence. No arrests have been made.

The Wayne Mills Band has been playing for more than 15 years, performing mostly on the college circuit.

Country music stars Jamey Johnson and Blake Shelton and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks all opened as support acts for the band early on in their careers.

Shelton tweeted: “Extremely sad to hear about the death of my old friend Wayne Mills.”

The pub where the incident took place, Pit and Barrel, was due to have been featured on a TV programme called Bar Rescue, which features struggling bars given makeovers by a nightclub expert on Sunday (November 24). Cable network Spike TV subsequently decided to pull the episode.