Stonewall Jackson, country singer and longtime Grand Ole Opry member best known for his now classic hit “Waterloo”, died on Saturday at the age of 89.
Jackson died early Saturday of complications from vascular dementia, according to a statement from the Opry.
A classic country artist who listed songs in the 50s, 60s and 70s, Jackson built his 65-year career on the # 1 hits “Waterloo” and “BJ The DJ”, as well as “A Wound Time Can’t Erase, “” Don’t Be Angry “and his first single” Life To Go “in 1958, written by a young George Jones.
Born November 6, 1932 in Tabor City, North Carolina, Jackson is named after Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Raised on a farm in South Georgia, Jackson at the age of 10 traded in his bike for a guitar and started learning songs, according to his biography.
After serving in the US Navy, he came to Nashville in 1956, knocking on the door of famous publisher Acuff-Rose in hopes of launching a career in country music.
âI came into town, pulled up to a little motel on the south side of town and checked in,â Jackson once said, according to the Grand Ole Opry. Across the street stood Acuff-Rose’s offices.
He added, “I said, I think I’m going to go over there and see if anyone in country music talks to me.”
He signed with publisher Wesley Rose and began to climb the country music ranks, becoming a member of Opry on November 3, 1956, months before signing a recording contract with Columbia. According to the Opry, Jackson worked in shipping for the institution before his career took off, including shifts where he sent souvenir books from the basement of the National Life building.
However, it wouldn’t ship collectibles for long. Jackson’s career took off in the late 1950s with âLife To Goâ and âWaterloo,â the latter spending five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s country charts. The song remains Jackson’s best known, offering listeners a haunting tale of three historical men – the biblical figure Adam, Napoleon Bonaparte and Tom Dooley – who “met (their) Waterloo”, a nod to death. The song became a crossover hit for Jackson, entering the top five on the pop charts.
On âWaterlooâ he sang: âEveryone must pay / Everyone must meet his Waterloo. ”
Jackson continued to trace songs throughout the 1960s and early 1970s including “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water”, “Why I’m Walkin ‘”, “Stamp Out Lonliness” and a cover of “Me and You and a Dog Named Huer.”
Jackson regularly played on the Opry throughout his career; in 2006, he continued the long-standing age discrimination program, according to the Associated Press. The Opry denied Jackson’s claims, settling the dispute out of court in 2008, the AP reported.
Jackson was the last living solo artist to be inducted into the Opry in the 1950s. âWhisperin ‘â Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson held the title of Longest-serving Opry in 1961. The Opry dedicated Saturday night’s performance to Jackson.
“Saddened to hear of the loss of one of the Honky Tonk heroes of the 50s and 60s, Grand Ole Opry member STONEWALL JACKSON returned home today”, follow Opry members, the Oak Ridge Boys shared Saturday via Twitter. “Rest quietly sir !! “
He lived for decades in Brentwood, in a Jackson resort called “Lake Waterloo”.
Jackson is predeceased by his wife and company director, Juanita Wair Jackson, who died in 2019. Funeral arrangements are pending.