Joey Garrison

Nashville Tennessean

Published 6:39 PM EST Nov 30, 2018

Kid Rock is out as grand marshal of the Nashville Christmas Parade.

His likely replacement: James Shaw Jr., the hero from Nashville’s Waffle House shooting in April, who has now been invited to be the new grand marshal. 

On the eve of Saturday’s parade, organizers stripped Rock of the title after the music star made controversial comments Friday morning which quickly caused a public backlash and led Nashville’s mayor to threaten sitting out of the event. 

Top parade organizers — Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Piedmont Natural Gas and Tennessee Holiday Productions — announced the decision in a joint statement late Friday. 

“The 65th Nashville Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 1 will not feature Kid Rock, who had previously volunteered to serve as its Grand Marshal,” the statement said. “Parade organizers feel that the grand marshal should personify the spirit of the Nashville community and have invited James Shaw, Jr., who became a community hero after stopping a shooting at a local Waffle House earlier this year, to be honored. 

“The parade is a fun family tradition that also raises money for worthy charitable causes. We appreciate the hundreds of community volunteers who are working hard to make this year’s parade another great event.”

Other parade sponsors include Tootsie’s and several other Lower Broadway honky-tonk bars also owned by businessman Steve Smith, a partner with Rock on a separate new Lower Broadway bar.

But Smith said he he does not support the move and vowed that Rock will be in the parade anyway.

“Until someone reimburses us, he will be in the parade tomorrow morning and he will be the grand marshal,” Smith told reporters via conference call.

“All this got started over something stupid, and I can’t believe it got this far. I’m sorely disappointed in how far this got,” Smith said.  “I don’t know why the city is all up in arms about this. I guarantee you the public will stand behind KR 

More: Nashville Mayor David Briley leaning toward skipping Christmas parade if Kid Rock is still Grand Marshal

The move comes after Kid Rock, whose real name is Robert James Richie, appeared on Fox & Friends Friday morning and in remarks seemed to downplay complaints about racism and homophobia as political correctness. He also called television personality Joy Behar, co-host of The View, a “b—-.”

“God forbid you say something a little bit wrong, you’re racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, this that and another. People need to calm down get a little less politically correct,” Rock said. 

“I would say, ‘love everybody,’ except I’d say, ‘screw that Joy Behar b—-,'” he added in his appearance, taped live from Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse in downtown Nashville. 

Shortly after the remarks, Metro Councilman Freddie O’Connell, a liberal member of Nashville’s legislative body, announced he would boycott the parade if Rock remained the grand marshal. O’Connell’s council district includes the downtown area where the parade will take place.

It was followed by Nashville Mayor David Briley, a Democrat, who said he was inclined to not participate if Rock remained grand marshal.

Rock has a home in the Whites Creek area of Nashville.

A conservative and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, Rock has attracted criticism for past statements over the years including yelling, ‘F — Colin Kaepernick” during a concert last year.

More: Nashville councilman won’t go to Christmas Parade because Kid Rock is Grand Marshal

The Nashville Christmas Parade is not a Metro government-sponsored event, although mayors and council members traditionally take part in it. 

Piedmont Natural Gas has historically hosted the Nashville Christmas Parade. But the gas company this year is co-sponsoring the event with multiple downtown honky-tonk bars including Rippy’s, Honky Tonk Central, The Diner Nashville, Tootsie’s and the newly opened Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse, where Kid Rock is a partner. Each is owned by Smith. The parade has a long list of other sponsors as well.

Rock was selected as grand marshal by the coalition, not Metro.

After Rock’s comments on Fox News, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy immediately apologized on air. 

Rock corrected himself, saying “I mean lady.” Noting that he was joking, he said, “We all love this country and let’s have different ideas but try to move forward and be more together. At the end of the day, we’re all Americans.” 

It’s unclear to what degree he was joking.

When Doocy asked him if he was apologizing for the language he used towards Behar, Kid Rock said, “I apologize for the language, not the sentiment.”

Past grand marshals of the Nashville Christmas Parade have included country music stars Brenda Lee, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, Dottie West, Jerry Reed and Charlie Daniels.

Last year, Nashville Predators hockey player Mike Fisher served as the parade’s grand marshal

The parade begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of First Avenue North and Brandon Street.

More: Video debut: Kid Rock joins country stars to celebrate ‘Waffle House Christmas’

Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236, jgarrison@tennessean.com and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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