The Grand Ole Opry member passed away Saturday at age 89.
Stonewall Jackson — who made history in 1959 as the first artist to join the Grand Ole Opry before signing a recording contract — was mourned by friends and admirers after the country music legend’s death Saturday at age 89.
“I had the pleasure of working some concerts with Stonewall when I was just starting out on my career,” said T.G. Sheppard. “He always lit up each and every room he walked into. He was truly one of the great legends and trailblazers of our industry. Gone but never forgotten!”
Jackson “was a real character,” said Rhonda Vincent. “His style was reflected in everything he did. I most recently was driving around Nashville and noticed his tour bus parked. Oh, the stories that bus could tell. He made no apologies for who he was. I admired his grit, and how he stood up for what he believed in. My sincere condolences to his family.”
David Frizzell recalled: “I first met Stonewall in the late ‘50s right before I went into the Air Force while working with my brother Lefty. Stonewall was always a lot of fun to be around and I enjoyed hearing him sing all his hit songs on the package shows. It was always an honor to be on the same stage with him.”
“The Grand Ole Opry has always been a place of fellowship for all artists,” said Lee Greenwood, “and I am saddened to hear of Stonewall’s passing. Although Stonewall and I never recorded or performed together outside of the Opry, his songs have had and always will have a lasting impact on country music. Stonewall will be missed.”
Jackson — admiringly described by Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys as “one of the honky-tonk heroes of the ‘50s and ‘60s” — scored his first hit single in 1958 with “Life to Go,” a song written by a young George Jones. He followed that with such chart-toppers as “Waterloo” (which became his signature song), “Smoke Along the Track,” “Don’t Be Angry,” “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water” and “B.J. the D.J.”
Over his decades-long career, Stonewall landed 44 singles on the Billboard country chart. The late Porter Wagoner would introduce Jackson on his show by saying he came to the Opry "with a heart full of love and a sack full of songs.” His 1971 release Recorded Live at the Grand Ole Opry was the first live album ever recorded at Nashville’s “Mother Church of Country Music”, the Ryman Auditorium.
The Saturday Grand Ole Opry performance was dedicated to Stonewall Jackson. Further arrangements are pending.