Stonewall Jackson — the Grand Ole Opry‘s most senior member — has died. Jackson notched hit songs in three different decades and was a familiar face at the Opry for over 50 years. “Waterloo” and “B.J. the D.J.” were his two No. 1 hits but he placed 11 songs inside the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart.
The 89-year-old was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 65 years, making him the most tenured member until his death on Saturday (Dec. 4). He joined the Opry on Nov. 3, 1956 and later recorded a live album from the stage. “Don’t Be Angry” (1964), “A Wound Time Can’t Erase” (1962), “Stamp Out Loneliness” (1967) and “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” (1971) were among his other commercially successful songs. The latter was a cover of a Lobo song and Jackson’s final Top 10 hit.
“Thank you for all the music and memories, Stonewall Jackson,” the Grand Ole Opry tweeted. Saturday night’s show will be dedicated to him.
Jackson was born in Tabor City, N.C. in 1932 but raised in Georgia. Stonewall was his real name, not a nickname. He was named after the Confederate General of the same name. The singer also was a military-man, serving in the U.S. Navy for four years before beginning his professional singing career.
His version of George Jones‘ “Life To Go” (1958) was his first hit, but it was soon followed by “Waterloo,” a remarkably upbeat song with a dark message of how several historical characters (Adam from the Bible, Napoleon, Tom Dooley) met their deaths.
“Waterloo Waterloo / Where will you meet your Waterloo / Every puppy has his day / Everybody has to pay / Everybody has to meet his Waterloo,” he sings.
It remained at No. 1 for five weeks, per Billboard.
“Saddened to hear of the loss of one of the Honky Tonk heroes of the 50’s and 60’s (sic),” the Oak Ridge Boys tweeted. “Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson went home today … Rest Easy sir!!”
Jackson died after a long battle with vascular dementia. Bill Anderson now becomes the Opry’s senior member, at just over 60 years. Coincidentally, “Whispering” Bill was honored with a new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this week.
Funeral arrangements for Stonewall Jackson are pending.
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May they rest in peace …