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The Highwaymen: The Mount Rushmore of Country Music and Still the Best Band in History


Individually blazing their own trails was perhaps the main fuel to The Highwaymen‘s road of success, thereby placing them on top of the music industry in the ’80s. Why wouldn’t they be? This dream team composed by four of the most iconic names in country music made The Highwaymen a force to be reckoned with. As time came and the group was introduced to the public, they took the world by storm and their music made waves all across the globe.


“The Highwaymen” was Campbell’s Idea

Despite releasing two albums, this super group was still nameless. Thanks to Glen Campbell who introduced Johnny Cash to Jimmy Webb’s 1977 song titled,“Highway Man.” It happened during one of the group’s early album recordings. Cash, at that time was not feeling well, but knew that they had to finish the album.

Glen Campbell stopped by and played a few lines of Jimmy Webb’s song with a guitar. Cash and the rest of the gang liked it so they decided to include it in their album. Campbell said that the song was a good fit for the group as there were four verses which allowed each one of them to play a character; bringing their own unique spin in each verse.


Debut Performance

Imagine how cool must have been the sight of four of the biggest names in Country music coming together and forming a single band! Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson delivered the greatest performances each time they stepped on the stage.

The group’s debut live performance happened during one of the early ’90s Farm Aid concerts. Johnny Cash did the opening lines. He said that being there was a great opportunity for them, and that all of them had a great run in the industry. Cash added that it was his pleasure to share the same stage with his musical comrades which they unanimously call The Highwaymen.

As fans watch them perform, it was pretty clear that The Highwaymen’s on-stage chemistry was more than just making music and albums. Their group was founded in a friendship which lasted for a lifetime while creating endless memories.

Their Signature Song

A song featuring four iconic voices could always be counted as a hit. This was true with the reception to The Highwaymen’s signature song, Highway Man.

It’s a song about the incarnations of a soul in four different places in time as a highwayman, a sailor, a construction worker, and a captain of a Star ship. As already mentioned, it was a perfect fit for Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson. The song was made more appealing by how each of the member brought his own tang and personality.

But it was not only the fame and popularity of The Highwaymen that went on the rise. This also helped rekindle Jimmy Webb’s career. Jimmy Webb said that with the help of The Highwaymen, his song’s newly gained success brought him a Grammy award for the Best Country Music of the Year.

Whose Version is Better?

The Highwaymen’s version of “Highway Man” was released under Columbia Records and produced by Chips Moman.

Up until today, there was no version of the song that could topple that of The Highwaymen. It has remained as among the most popular songs worldwide. This was also the group’s only top charting song. It spent 20 weeks on the top of the country music charts and secured the number 5 spot in terms of airplay in 1985.

The group’s debut album also followed the success of their single. It became their number one platinum selling album. As for which version is better between the original and The Highwaymen‘s, that would remain subjective. Jimmy Webb, who originally wrote the song, also received much love for his original version of the hit song.

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