In Memoriam|

Photo: Publicity photo of Stonewall Jackson in 1966 (Columbia Records) Stonewall Jackson (11/06/1932 – 12/04/2021) was an American country music singer and musician who achieved his greatest fame during country’s “golden” honky tonk era in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Born in Tabor City, North Carolina on November 6, 1932, Jackson was the youngest of three children. Stonewall is not a nickname; he was named after Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. (Some publicity claimed he was a descendant of the general, but that is unlikely.)

When Stonewall was two, his father died after which his mother moved the family to Moultrie in South Georgia, where he grew up 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 tape, Wesley Rose, president of Acuff-Rose Music, arranged for Jackson to audition for the Grand Ole Opry. Jackson became the first artist to join the Grand Ole Opry before obtaining a recording contract. He toured with Ernest 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 Billboard Hot 100 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. The song cites Adam, Napoleon and Tom Dooley as examples.

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 tragedy 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. His other hit songs 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 cover version of Lobo’s 1971 hit, “Me and You and 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 damages, claiming age discrimination. As a member of the Opry for over fifty years, Jackson believed 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 was a member of the Opry from 1956 until his death. He largely retired from performing by 2012, with his last public performance being at the funeral of his longtime friend George Jones.

Jackson lived on a farm in Brentwood, Tennessee where his wife Juanita died on January 11, 2019. She was also his personal manager and operated his song publishing company, Turp Tunes. He has a son, Stonewall Jackson Jr.

He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012.

Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 4, 2021, at the age of 89 from complications of vascular dementia.


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Steel Guitarist Neil Flanz Passes

John Macy & Jock Bartley: Got the sad news that Neil Flanz passed. I met Neil and Jock Bartley in 1973 while they were on the Gram Parsons tour (saw all 6 nights at Oliver’s in Boston) and remained friends with them ever since. Neil was not only a fantastic player but a walking encyclopedia of steel guitar history. I will miss him. Rest easy, pal….

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Skilyr Hicks Dies: ‘America’s Got Talent’ Contestant Was 23

By Greg Evans, Yahoo Entertainment | Skilyr Hicks who at age 14 impressed the judges of America’s Got Talent with her performance of an original song and poignant story of losing her father, died Monday in Liberty, South Carolina. She was 23.

Her death was confirmed by her younger sister Breelyn Hicks in a Facebook … Earlier, TMZ reported that the sisters’ mother, Jodi Hicks, told the news outlet that Skiler was found lifeless at the home of a friend.

“My super beautiful, extremely talented, hilarious, free spirit of a sister left this world to be with Jesus,” writes Breelyn Hicks. “I can’t possibly put into words how broken-hearted I am. I will miss her like crazy. I’ll miss her voice, her long warm hugs, her constantly making jokes using puns. Her ability to create music that inspired thousands of people. She had so much life left to live…”

According to TMZ, Jodi Hicks said Skilyr battled mental health issues including depression and substance abuse. Skilyr Hicks was arrested in 2017 and 2018 for assaulting family members while drunk and underage drinking.
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