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December, 28

Obituary: Stonewall Jackson, country singer

Stonewall Jackson, who has died at the age of 89, was a talented country musician.

For more than half a century, he featured on Grand Ole Opry, a prominent country radio station where he started out in 1956 and was still making appearances up until 2010.

As part of Grand Ole Opry, musicians both perform and host their own shows. On the station, Jackson was introduced by Porter Wagoner as having “a heart full of love and a sack full of songs”.

Jackson’s best-known tracks are perhaps the two No 1 hits that he had on the Billboard country charts – “B.J. the D.J.”, which came out in 1963, and “Waterloo”, which came out in 1959.

The latter, which spent two weeks in the Top 40 charts on this side of the pond, explored the falls of Napoleon and Adam from the Christian creation story. Overall, Jackson had 44 singles on the Billboard country charts.

In 1997, he won the Ernest Tubb memorial award for his contributions to country music. The award was fitting, as the eponymous singer-songwriter had been something of a mentor to Jackson, hiring him as an opening act and even paying for his first set of proper stage clothes.

Jackson was born in Tabor City, North Carolina, the son of railroad engineer Waymond David and Lulu Lorraine (nee Turner). His father is said to have chosen his name, after Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson.

Jackson’s father died of a hernia before he was born. His stepfather, a sharecropper, was physically abusive, and his mother eventually moved to Georgia to leave the relationship.

From as young as 10 years old, Jackson worked the fields. Later he joined the Navy, where he developed his love of music, playing guitar and writing songs.

The start of his music career came via a happy accident. Jackson stopped at a motel across the street from Acuff-Rose, a big publishing firm, and decided to head in and introduce himself.

He sang for publisher Wesley Rose, who was so impressed by him that he was taken to meet the founder of Grand Ole Opry, George D Hay, and manager WD Kilpatrick. He signed with the radio station that day. He is the only artist that was signed to the station before releasing any music.

Before his music career took off, Jackson worked transporting Opry souvenir books from the basement of the National Life building.

However, his relationship with Grand Ole Opry soured when he claimed he had been a victim of age discrimination, saying that his appearances had been cut down, starting in 1998.

In 2008, aged 75, he settled a federal age discrimination lawsuit against the station and its management. The settlement terms are not public.

In 1991, Jackson released an autobiography called From the Bottom Up: The Stonewall Jackson Story as Told in His Own Words. He is survived by his children and grandchildren.

Stonewall Jackson, country singer, born 6 November, 1932, died 4 December 2021

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