Stonewall Jackson Biography

6 November 1932, Tabor City, North Carolina, USA. Jackson’s family tree does in fact extend to the famous Confederate general of the American Civil War, hence his name. After the death of his father when Stonewall was aged two, his mother relocated to Moultrie, Georgia, where, at the age of eight, he worked on his uncle’s farm. When he was 10 he swapped his bicycle for a guitar and learned to play by watching others. He joined the army in 1948, lying about his age, but the error was soon discovered. The next year he joined the navy legally and began his singing career by entertaining his shipmates. After discharge in 1954, he spent two years working on a farm but in 1956, with no professional singing experience, he decided to try his luck in Nashville. He impressed Wesley Rose enough for him to record some demo discs of his songs; after auditioning for George D. Hay, Jackson became one of the few performers without a recording contract to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, he recalled, ‘I found out later it’s the only time anybody’s ever come and just was hired off the street’. He signed for Columbia Records in 1957 and first worked on Ernest Tubb’s road show.

Jackson made his US country chart debut in 1958 when his recording of George Jones’ prison saga, ‘Life To Go’, reached number 2. In 1959, Jackson’s recording of John D. Loudermilk’s ‘Waterloo’ became a million-selling country number 1, also reaching number 4 in the US pop charts. Between 1959 and 1963 further successes followed, including ‘Why I’m Walkin’’, ‘A Wound Time Can’t Erase’, ‘Leona’ and ‘Old Showboat’, before he achieved another country number 1 with ‘B.J. The D.J.’ Throughout the mid-60s and early-70s he charted regularly, including his own songs ‘Don’t Be Angry’ (a song he had initially recorded as a demo for Wesley Rose eight years earlier), ‘I Washed My Face In Muddy Water’ and ‘Stamp Out Loneliness’. (‘Don’t Be Angry’ was revived in 1987 by Irish singer Daniel O’Donnell on his album Don’t Forget To Remember). 1968’s The Great Old Songs featured many folk ballads, including arguably his best track, ‘The Black Sheep’. Jackson’s style gradually went out of fashion but he did make the country Top 10 in 1971 with a country version of ‘Me And You And A Dog Named Boo’. During the Vietnam War he recorded a patriotic single, ‘The Minute Men Are Turning In Their Graves’, and even renamed his band the Minute Men to emphasize the point. He also has the distinction of being the first artist to record a live in-concert album at the Grand Ole Opry. Jackson still resides in Nashville and maintains his appearances on the show.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.