Stonewall Jackson Keeps Up The Fight At The Grand Ole Opry


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There is good news to report tonight over the continuing fight to insure that the legends of the Grand Ole Opry can continue to perform on the nation’s longest running radio show.  Earlier this year I wrote about how growing old at the Grand Ole Opry can be a trying experience. The blog post went national with the help of a Nashville blogger, and the comments I got were amazing and heartfelt. 

I was thrilled tonight to learn that Stonewall Jackson’s lawsuit against the Opry is able to go forward. 

A federal judge has cleared the way for country music singer Stonewall Jackson to pursue claims of age discrimination against the Grand Ole Opry.

Jackson, who joined the Opry in 1956 and had a string of hits in the ’50s and ’60s, including the No. 1 single “Waterloo,” filed a $20 million lawsuit earlier this year against Gaylord Entertainment and Opry General Manager Peter Fisher.

The singer claimed breach of contract, retaliation and age discrimination.

Gaylord, which owns the Opry, denied the allegations and in court papers accused the 75-year-old singer of filing the lawsuit to boost his career.

Neither Jackson nor his manager could be reached for comment, but the singer’s attorney said Jackson was pleased with the recent decision by U.S. District Judge William Haynes Jr.

“He feels, and has always felt, that he was an employee of the Grand Ole Opry, and he feels that he’s entitled to the protection of the federal law,” stated Jackson’s attorney.

The reason this story might draw the attention of the average person in the nation is due to the issue of people growing older, while still wanting to contribute with the talents and skills one has been given.  For those of us who find the Grand Ole Opry a real slice of Americana this story is personal.

For the past 15 years I have videotaped from TV countless hours of the Grand Ole Opry, with the likes of Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and other legends of the famed radio show performing to adoring audiences. This year James and I bought a machine to convert VHS to DVD, so I sat down with a tech-friend to learn how to edit tapes.  The project turned out to be a labor of love while watching the old singers, and listening to their folksy humor.  As a long time lover of the Opry, the homey old-fashioned way of performing was most comforting.  I recalled many of the singers from days at my grandparent’s place where we all watched “Hee Haw”.  Still others were memories from when as a boy I heard the Opry over WSM on the radio in my parent’s dining room.  Those old singers were still relevant even in their older years. 

To somehow pretend that these singers were not instrumental in the golden age of the Opry, and should not be honored, is shameful. To assume that they no longer have the right to stand on the famed round circle located center stage at the Opry based on their age is just plain wrong.  And if justice is served, it will be illegal.

I hope that Stonewall fights hard for his rights.  With each stand he takes he also fights for the others who wish to continue to hear the applause, and wish to continue their careers at the Opry.  With each day Stonewall fights he also makes those of us who know the Opry is more than a bottom line on a ledger book most proud.

Keep Up The Fight Stonewall!

25 thoughts on “Stonewall Jackson Keeps Up The Fight At The Grand Ole Opry

  1. Terry Stewart .... UK.

    If not for these oldtimers there would be no Oprey. You must allways remember the past while enjoying the present and looking forward to the future. Hank and the like are the roots that helped this tree grow.

  2. John Duff

    I have had the pleasure of meeting many of our country legends and without them there simply would be no country music. Age discrimination is everywhere but to deny the artistes who created such a wonderful heritage is completely wrong. To many of us country fans here in the UK who listened to the Oprey every Saturday night on AFN kept a dream alive of maybe one day making it to Nashville and the Opry, where we could be there at a live show with the artistes we grew up with. and admired, maybe even emulated. For me it did take many years but I did make my dream come true and visited both the Ryman and the Opry. To stand on the stage of the old ryman where tose legends once stood was so overwhelmingthere were tears in my eyes. then to be there in the Opry at the Saturday night show just made it incredible.

    I was the resident DJ at Glasgows Grand Old Oprey for many years and compared to the actual Oprey is pale in comparison, yet for us in Scotland it is our home of country music and I am proud to say there is no age discrimination there whatsoever.

  3. Lee Barnes

    Give them Hell,STONEWALL, He was one of my hero’s when I was learning songs,and singing them at the old Honky Tonks In Northern Michigan.
    I started,48 years ago And today he’s right there again,As one of my favorite country singers I’ll be doing one of his songs when I’am inducted into Michigan Country Music Hall Of Fame this Aug. So thank’s again STONEWALL….
    And gitter done STONEWALL!!!!!
    Lee Barnes

  4. harry

    I totally agree the Opry wouldn’t be what it is today well what it used to be if it was not for Stonewall and all the other icons and let me say to have some of these young bloods get inducted to the HOF before the legends is a travesty of justice and to consider the Eagles Country well that may be this NEW country but its not my type of country.

  5. Flower Girl

    Legends still play the Opry every weekend. According to opry.com, this weekend you can see Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Jimmy Dickens, George Hamilton IV, Jan Howard, Mel McDaniel, Jack Greene, Ralph Stanley, Charlie Louvin, Jeannie Seely…shall I go on? I think it’s clear that there is no age discrimination on the Opry and it is ludicrous for Stonewall to pursue this lawsuit.

  6. Jt Williams

    I think its sad that the opry has teamed up with corporate nashville to shove one more of their destinies down our throats and into our ears. In my opinion when they allowed Garth Brooks to pass as country in all went down hill from there. Now you have Vince Gill saying the Eagles did more for country music that Ernest Tubb. In my opinion Nashville music and its so called singers today really suck and its all about the money, not the music. These legends that get a chance to appear are always the same ones. Well what about the ones that are still around and dont get to. Some went to Branson and the great State of Texas to continue their careers. And we all know why. Again Nashville and the opry has run them off. Well give’em hell Stonewall, and I hope they wake up. The real country singers are of age and I still enjoy them and they have fans like me to hold on to. And they sound just as good today as they did when they started. What is that crap they call country today? Jt Williams

  7. Jim Shawhan

    It’s good to understand that country music as it matured through the times of Hank, Roy, Minnie, Stonewall, and all of the other greats, has been destroyed by the record companies, Gaylord, and the Grand Ole Opry. They are all in each others pockets. They have dictated the music and who they will make the stars based on their greed for money. I have been a converted true country music fan since 18 years old until now at 74. I have watched the Stonewall’s thrown under the bus for years and I wish Stonewall and others the best of luck. These people should be made to reap the rewards of their greed.

    Jim Shawhan, Indiana

  8. hank whitney

    if it wasn’t for hank willims.si e tubb george jones hank locklin and lets not forget miss kitty wells or jean sheperd loreta lynn just to name a few thair would be no opery so i say let my pepole sing i own every one on record and new so called country can’t hold a candel

  9. Barry

    What about Uncle Dave Macon, Gid Tanner and The Skillet Lickers, Stringbean ie..Willaim Ackmon, Jimmie Rogers, Bob Will’s, Willie Nelson, Merle Travis, Marty Robbins,…

    There are (and where) so many REAL country stars out there that these “New” Country don’t have much of a chance.

    One of the first things they need to learn is that a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat doesn’t make you a country singer!

  10. Gale Roberts

    Being 76 years old I fondly remember all the excellent old time classic country Grand Ole Opry stars. This new generation with a few exceptions are mostly a bunch of whiners that try to sound like Garth Brooks and Allison Krause which is certainly not genuine country music. Rolling your eyes, wearing a big hat and tight jeans, and smashing guitars on stage sure does not compare favorably with old Roy Acuff and the boys of yesteryear. I hope Stonewall wins out for all of our sake. Gale Roberts

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