Farm Aid / YouTube
The original bad boys of country decided one day to all join forces and make the supergroup The Highwaymen and it might have been one of the best things to happen in country music history!
Inspired by the Jimmy Webb song “Highwayman,” Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash loved the song so much, they named their supergroup The Highwaymen. They released a cover of “Highwayman” in 1986.
But the reason we had this version of “Highwayman,” which hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, was thanks to none other than Glen Campbell.
He included it on his album of the same name, though it did not do well on the charts. Around the same time, Webb brought the song to Waylon Jennings, but he didn’t think it was a good fit for him and his outlaw buddies.
Years later in 1984, Campbell played the song for Cash, who was in the process of making a quartet album with Nelson, Jennings, and Kristofferson. Marty Stuart was also there, and told Cash that each of the four verses, which represents a different man, would be perfect for the outlaw quartet. The song is about a highwayman, a sailor, a dam builder and a “spaceman.”
Campbell played it for all four men and they finally saw the vision. They released “Highwayman” in the spring of 1985.
In September 1985, the group performed at the very first Farm Aid concert with Glen Campbell standing in for Kris Kristofferson. It was an incredible performance that bridged the two different lives the song has had!
Having Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings on the same stage together is already iconic, but to add in a performance of “Highwayman”? Now that is legendary!
Watch the amazing performance below!