Country’s first supergroup emerged from a 1984 Johnny Cash Christmas special taped in Switzerland. Along with Marty Stuart, the guests were longtime Cash pals friends Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson.
The concept made sense to veteran Memphis producer Chips Moman, who supervised the music for the show. The quartet soon had an album and a name, taken from Jim Webb’s composition “Highwayman,” a 1985 No.1 single. While continuing their solo careers, the quartet would reassemble for recordings and tours until ’95. Today, with Kristofferson and Willie the sole survivors and both in their 80s, this material takes on added poigniancy.
This three-CD collection offers audio of a March, 1990, concert on Long Island, plus a concert DVD. A third CD draws from the 1992 and ’93 Farm Aid concerts.
The performances drew from everyone’s best-known hits, with added numbers like Junior Parker’s “Mystery Train” and the George Jones hit “The King Is Gone.”
Willie and Waylon’s guitar work (on Trigger and Tele, respectively) is as good as expected. So is the masterful accompaniment of A-list sidemen, most associated with Moman. The fretted contingent featured Reggie Young (who rips up “Folsom Prison Blues”), J.R. Cobb, bassist Mike Leech, and Robby Turner on pedal steel.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s November ’16 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.