Stonewall Jackson, a country singer and longtime Grand Ole Opry member known for his now-classic hit “Waterloo,” died Saturday at age 89.
Jackson, who was suffering from complications due to vascular dementia, died Saturday morning according to the Opry.
Jackson, who was an iconic country artist, charted many songs during the 1950s-60s and 1970s. His 65-year long career began with No. 1 hits “Waterloo” and “B.J. The D.J,” as well as “A Wound Time Can’t Erase,” “Don’t Be Angry” and his 1958 debut single “Life To Go,” written by a young George Jones.
Born on Nov. 6, 1932, in Tabor City, North Carolina, Jackson was named after Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Raised on a south Georgia farm, Jackson at age 10 traded his bike for a guitar and began learning songs, according to his biography.
After serving in the U.S. Navy, he came to Nashville in 1956, knocking on the door of top publisher Acuff-Rose in hopes of launching a country music career.
“I came into town, stopped at a little motel on the south side of town, and checked in,” Jackson once said, according to the Grand Ole Opry. Acuff-Rose offices were across the street.
He added, “I said, I believe I’ll walk over there and see if anybody in country music will talk to me.”
He signed with publisher Wesley Rose and began climbing the country music ranks, becoming an Opry member on Nov. 3, 1956 — months before signing a record contract with Columbia. According to the Opry, Jackson worked in shipping for the institution before his career took off, including shifts where he mailed souvenir books from the basement of the National Life building.
But he would not be shipping collectables very long. Jackson’s career took off in the late 1950s with “Life To Go” and “Waterloo,” the latter spending five weeks at No. Billboard’s number one country song. The song remains Jackson’s best-known, giving listeners a haunting story of three historical men — Biblical figure Adam, Napoleon Bonaparte and Tom Dooley — who “met (their) Waterloo,” a nod to death. Jackson’s crossover smash, the song reached the Top Five on Pop Charts.
On Waterloo, he sang the following: Everybody has got to pay/ Everyone has to go to his Waterloo.”
Jackson continued to chart songs throughout the 1960s and early ’70s, including “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water,” “Why I’m Walkin’,” “Stamp Out Loneliness” and a cover of “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo.”
Jackson regularly performed on the Opry throughout his career; in 2006 he sued the longtime program for age discrimination, according to the Associated Press. According to the Associated press, Jackson filed no claims against the Opry, and settled the case out of court.
Jackson was the last living solo artist to be in inducted into the Opry in the 1950s. Bill Anderson, a Country Music Hall of Famer named “Whisperin”, holds the title of Opry member with the longest tenure. He joined in 1961. Jackson was the Opry’s Saturday evening performance.
“Sinister to learn about the death of STONEWALL JACKSON (Honky Tonk Hero of the 1950s and 1960s Grand Ole Opry),” follow Opry members, the Oak Ridge Boys Twitter: Shared Saturday“Rest in peace sir!”
He spent decades living in Brentwood, a place Jackson named “Lake Waterloo”.
Jackson is preceded in death by his wife and business manager, Juanita Wair Jackson, who died in 2019. Funeral arrangements are being made.