Larry Garris of Corner Music has passed

Larry Garris, 77, longtime proprietor of Corner Music in Nashville, passed away on May 11, 2024, after several months of battling cancer. A celebration of life service will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 at Forest Hills UMC in Brentwood, TN, with visitation at 1:00 p.m. and services at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to Forest Hills UMC or your local hospice in his name are appreciated.

Larry was musically talented and began playing piano at an early age. In high school, he and several friends played at dances in a group they called The Avantis. After high school he completed two years at Wingate College, and then transferred to North Carolina State University. When close to graduation, he accepted a position as sales rep for Aria Guitars, traveling throughout the southeast. He relocated to Nashville in 1975. There, he opened Corner Music, his own musical merchandise store in 1976. His business became the store for Music City’s stars.

His store’s website reads, “Corner Music quickly became a mainstay among Nashville’s recording and touring professionals, and Larry is widely credited for the store’s expertise and friendly service.”

Most of his A-listers were patrons before they gained fame, and they have remained loyal customers after hitting the big time. Inside Garris’ music store, a black and white banner displays names of many of his well-known clients. The idea of the banner arose from his being continually questioned by customers about his famous clientele.

In a 2018 interview, Garris talked about his customers. “James Taylor has to have been my favorite. He’s been in the store several times. Chet Atkins was amazing. He heard things that no one else did.”

Early on, Garris and his staff worked on Vince Gill’s amps and guitars. 

“He had just come off Pure Prairie League. Nobody knew who Vince Gill was yet.”

Brad Paisley worked for Corner Music for a few months in his younger days.

“He would just sit and play guitar. Finally, I told him that he needed to be performing.”

A regular customer, the late Jerry Reed would greet Garris in the music store with his classic moniker, “Son!” 

Garth Brooks and Keith Urban would drop in before and after stardom. 

“Brooks was probably the least likely guy that you’d expect to reach stardom,” referencing his early years gracing his music shop.

“Urban was this new kid who had just moved here from Australia,” he added.

A few Christmases ago, Urban made a return trip to Corner Music.

“Keith congratulated me on the success of my store and I said, ‘Well, congratulations to you.’ His face turned red with embarrassment and said, ‘Can you believe how lucky I have been?'”

Taylor Swift would come to Corner Music with her mother. The last time, however, she was also accompanied by two large bodyguards. 

“Times are changing,” Garris had admitted.

The entrepreneurs’ most memorable musical moment occurred when Garris talked over an hour with Leo Fender, founder of Fender Electric Instrument manufacturing Company, at the 1988 NAMM show in Chicago.

Garris’ store has been in operation for 48 years and has helped musicians, producers, sound engineers, plus it has installed sound systems in countless churches nationwide. Highly respected for his knowledge and his kindness, Garris has been instrumental in helping people enjoy music in their lives.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Mary VanBuskirk Garris; two sons: Benjamin Justus Garris and Kirk Andrew Garris; and two grandsons. A veteran, he had served in the National Guard.

Corner Music, located at 3048 Dickerson Pike, Nashville, will continue under the leadership of the Garris family.  Larry’s legacy among Nashville’s music business leaders will always be remembered.

RIP, Larry Garris.

Share this:

About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.