Stonewall Jackson (born November 6, 1932) is an American country singer, guitarist and musician who achieved his greatest fame during country’s “golden” honky tonk era in the 1950s and early 1960s
Jackson, born in Tabor City , North Carolina , is the youngest of three children. Stonewall is not a nickname; he was named after the Genral Stonwall Jackson. Some publicity for the singer claimed he was a descendant of the general, although this is extremely unlikely. (General Jackson’s only descendants are through his daughter Julia’s marriage to William Edmund Christian, and these descendants consequently do not bear the surname “Jackson”; thus, if the musician were to have descended from the general, it would have to be an indirect descent.)
Stonewall’s father died when he was two and his mother moved the family to South Georgia. Jackson grew up there working on his uncle’s farm. Jackson enlisted in the Navy in 1950 and was discharged in 1954. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1956.
After hearing Jackson’s demo tap, Wesle Rose, president of Acuff-Rose Music, arranged for Jackson to try out for the Grand ole Opry . Jackson became the first artist to join the Grand Ole Opry before obtaining a recording contract. He toured with Eenest Tubb, who became his mentor. Jackson signed with Columbia Records in 1958.
His breakthrough came in the country Top 40 in late 1958, with a song written by a young George Jones, “Life to Go”. It peaked at No. 2 in early 1959 and his follow-up record, “WaterLoo”, was No. 1 for five weeks and crossed over into the Top 40 of the Bill Board chart, where it reached No. 4. The track also reached No. 24 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1959. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song was a haunting and catchy tune that states “Everybody has to meet his WaterLoo, meaning their fate.
His next No. 1 hits came in 1964 with “Don’t Be Angry” and ” B.J.” the D.J” (Jackson’s foray into the teenage traged song trope, about an over-worked country music radio station disc jockey, who crashes his car in a rainstorm). In 1963, Jackson was the first artist to record a live album from the Grand Ole Opry with Old Showboat. Other song hits include “The Carpet on the Floor”, “Why I’m Walkin'”, “A Wound Time Can’t Erase” and “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water”. Jackson also recorded a Dog Named Boo”, which became Jackson’s final top 10 hit.
From 1958 to 1971, Jackson had 35 Top 40 country hits.
In 2006, Jackson sued the Grand Ole Opry for $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damage, claiming . As a member of the Opry for over fifty years, Jackson believed that management was sidelining him in favor of younger artists. In his court filing, Jackson claimed that Opry general manager Pete Fisher stated that he did not “want any gray hairs on that stage or in the audience, and before I’m done there won’t be any.” Fisher is also alleged to have told Jackson that he was “too old and too country.” The lawsuit was settled on October 3, 2008 for an undisclosed amount and Jackson returned to performing on the show. He has been a member of the Opry since 1956.
Jackson lives on a farm in Berntwood, Tennessee where his wife Juanita died in 2019. She was also his personal manager and operated his song publishing company, Turp Tunes. He has a son, Stonewall Jackson, Jr.
Jackson was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012