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What do you get when you combine four legendary “outlaws” into one country supergroup? You get extraordinary music, unforgettable performances, and a lasting story of friendship.
In 1985, four of country music’s leading pioneers in the outlaw genre came together to form The Highwaymen, a group which came to be referred to as “the Mount Rushmore of country music.“ Each of these four artists were already legends in their own right, having carried out successful solo careers. They were none other than Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash.
Over the course of the next ten years, the group released three studio albums and galloped up the charts with their singles, including their number one hit “Highwayman.” Today, Nelson and Kristofferson are the only ones left to carry the Highwaymen’s torch, after Jennings and Cash passed away in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
Over 30 years after they originally joined forces to shake up the country music community, The Highwaymen have the chance to ride together again in an upcoming documentary called The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End.
The documentary is part of the PBS American Masters series, which is the same series that told Loretta Lynn‘s life story in Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl. The documentary is set for release next Friday, May 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS, and is sure to be a real treat for any outlaw country fan.
Although The Highwaymen were together for ten years, fans rarely got the chance to see footage of all four of them together on stage. That is, until now. The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End contains a wealth of previously unreleased footage from a concert the group recorded at the Nassau Coliseum in New York in 1990.
In addition to the concert footage, the documentary thoroughly explores how the four outlaw legends ended up coming together in order to create one of the most iconic collaborations in country music history. The documentary tells the group’s story of great music and good friends through the concert footage, as well as rare behind-the-scenes clips and personal interviews with the two surviving Highwaymen, Nelson and Kristofferson. Others who were interviewed about the Highwaymen’s influential role in country music include Jennings’ widow and country singer Jessi Colter, as well as Cash’s son John Carter Cash.
Overall, the documentary’s goal is to give viewers an inside look into the strong friendships The Highwaymen built over the years, and how those friendships led to the creation of some of the best country music to ever exist. Executive producer of American Masters, Michael Kantor, spoke in a press release about the influence The Highwaymen continue to have on the entire music community.
“Like many, I only wish I could have seen these giants live in concert, but this film gives you a front row seat and takes you backstage too,” he said.
As if the documentary wasn’t enough, fans also have the chance to listen to some of The Highwaymen’s most iconic songs on a new 3CD/1DVD or Blu-ray box set called The Highwaymen Live – American Outlaws. The set contains recordings and footage from live concert performances, including the entire concert featured in the American Masters film.
One of the highlights of the collection is a previously unreleased recording of a Bob Dylan song called “One Too Many Mornings.” Cash and Jennings recorded the song on a collaboration album in 1986, and in 2014 Nelson and Kristofferson recorded their own vocals and added them to the song in order to reunite The Highwaymen one final time.
The Highwaymen Live – American Outlaws is available on Friday, May 20. You can get your copy online through iTunes, Amazon or Walmart, or check your local stores. In addition to the box set, a single-disc compilation CD called The Very Best of The Highwaymen is also being released on May 20. You can order a copy online through Amazon or Walmart, or check in stores. Enjoy listening to your music prior to the debut of The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End on PBS at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, May 27.
You can watch the trailer for The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End in the video below.
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