THE HIGHWAYMEN - Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson - are unquestionably American country music’s most iconic quartette.
All belonging to the ‘Outlaw’ breed who stood aside from the ground rules of the Nashville establishment, the four brought a real dynamic to country music in the late 1980s and early 1990s that was very special, and indeed unique.
Johnny and Waylon have sadly passed on, but Willie, now 83, and Kris, 80 on June 22, are still recording and touring as if old had never caught up with them.
This weekend, a new CD/DVD collection ‘The Highwaymen Live — American Outlaws’ is coming out with previously unreleased concert performances from the four legends.
The CMT network in Nashville has just relayed the video premiere of the group’s performance of the Waylon Jennings chart-topper Good Hearted Woman, recorded live at the Nassau Colliseum in Uniondale, New York on March 14, 1990.
In addition to the complete concert from their 1990 tour, the Columbia/Legacy package includes various performances at Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid concerts in Texas and a previously unreleased version of a Cash and Jennings’ take on Bob Dylan’s classic One Too Many Mornings.
Meanwhile, American Masters — The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End, a new feature-length documentary on the supergroup, will premiere on May 27 on the Public Broadcasting Service network in the United States.
The Highwaymen’s trip started in 1985 and wrapped up one decade later. The group released three albums along the way, but their video output was more rare, with a bizarre, made-for-TV version of John Wayne’s Stagecoach — featuring all four in major roles, including Nelson as a somewhat stoned Doc Holliday — bringing them together for the longest time onscreen
At the height of their popularity, The Highwaymen (Cash, Nelson, Jennings and Kristofferson), all big favourites in Northern Ireland, gave a memorable concert at the King’s Hall in Belfast.
* DON WILLIAMS, another favourite in Northern Ireland, has announced his retirement.
The husky, laid-back Texas balladeer, who had a farewell concert at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast last year, recently had hip re-placement surgery and feels it is now time to stand aside from recording and punishing concert tours.
Don, now 76, says: “It’s time to enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so thankful for my fans, friends and family, for their love and support.”
In a career stretching back 50 years, Don has had 17 No 1 hits with songs like ‘Til the Rivers Run Dry, Amanda, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, The Shelter Of Your Eyes, I’m Just A Country Boy, Turn Out the Light and Love Me Tonight, and You’re My Best Friend.
Although never given full recognition for his brand of country in Nashville, Don Williams still enjoys huge popularity on this side of the Atlantic and his frequent visits to Belfast enhanced this. While he will never again tour Europe, Country Music Hall of Famer Don may be persuaded to record on his home patch. His throaty, laid-back straight-forward vocals still resonate.
* CHARLEY PRIDE has just been celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first No 1 Just Between You and Me. The song, written by ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement, netted Charley a Grammy award in 1966, instant US national fame and set him up for 50 more Top 10 hits.