Director and producer Jim Brown talks about the making of The Highwaymen: Friends Til The End, his admiration for the musicians’ camaraderie, passion for music and having a clear purpose in their careers. American Masters — The Highwaymen: Friends Til The Endpremieres nationwide Friday, May 27, 2016, at 9/8c on PBS (check local schedule) as part of the 30th anniversary season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series, exploring how these men came together and the fruits of their historic collaboration.
It’s Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson like you’ve never experienced them. That’s because this concert footage has never been seen before.
CMT has the video premiere of the super group’s performance of “Good Hearted Woman,” recorded live at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, on March 14, 1990.
It’s all part of the new collection The Highwaymen Live — American Outlaws, a CD/DVD package arriving May 20 with previously unreleased concert performances from the legends.
In addition to the complete concert from their 1990 tour, the Columbia/Legacy package includes various performances at Farm Aid and a previously unreleased version of Cash and Jennings’ take on Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings.”
American Masters — The Highwaymen: Friends Till the End, a new feature-length documentary on the supergroup, will premiere May 27 on PBS.
Johnny, Waylon & Willie do ‘Desperados Waiting for a Train’ in previously unseen footage.
There aren’t four more recognizable or legendary faces in music—country or otherwise—than those that comprised supergroup The Highwaymen. Formed unintentionally in 1984 in Montreux, Switzerland, when Johnny Cash invited Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings to be guests on a Christmas special he was taping, the foursome found a collaborative creative fire that would etch itself forever into the lore of country music.
“There’s the four of us standing there, grouped around microphones,” wrote Jennings in his autobiography, Waylon: An Autobiography. “The Highwaymen. John, Kris, Willie, and me. I don’t think there are any other four people like us. If we added one more, or replaced another, it would never work.”
Having four established artists known for doing what they want, when they want, work together is the sort of endeavor that can explode brilliantly or implode dramatically with equal ferocity. When it came to playing live for The Highwaymen, it was almost the latter, until the moment when they found a way to come together. Jennings addressed this in his book as well.
“When we first took The Highwaymen out live, it looked like four shy rednecks trying to be nice to each other. It almost ruined it. That didn’t work, for us and the audience, and it was really bothering me, how different we were on stage than when we were sitting around in the dressing room. [At one point] I was fixin’ to quit. I talked to John about it and he was feeling the same way. ‘I get a little nervous,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to look like I’m trying to steal your thunder.’ That was it. We were boring each other and the audience. It may be hard to think of Johnny Cash as intimidated, but that’s the way we were. You can’t have four big guys tiptoeing around each other on stage. Nobody has a good time. By the end of the week, with Willie dancing across the stage and John and Kris singing harmony neck-and-neck, we had the wildest show, and it made us a group.”
Over the course of their decade-long run, The Highwaymen released three records, charted multiple singles, and won a Grammy for Best Country Song for their tune, “Highwayman,” as well as playing barn-burner live shows that will forever rate as “you should have been there.” You can watch part of one of those performances below, featuring the song “Desperados Waiting for a Train,” filmed March 4, 1990, at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
While there will never be another group like The Highwaymen, their legacy lives on with a celebratory new multimedia box set, The Highwaymen Live—American Outlaws, out May 20. Featuring unreleased footage—including the entire Nassau concert as well as Farm Aid performances—and songs, as well as wildly fun to read liner notes from music scholar Mikal Gilmour, the box set is complemented by a PBS documentary, American Masters—The Highwaymen, ’til the End, which premieres May 27.
For the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s fourth Pops show of the 2015-16 season, they’ve decided it’s time to give the Gaillard Center a good-ole down-home feeling. After saluting Latin music, Louis Armstrong, and holiday classics, the CSO is going country with a special Country Legends concert, saluting the icons of country music, along with a few surprising choices — ack, Billy Ray Cyrus.
The entire affair will kick off with the theme from the legendary Western The Magnificent Seven, courtesy of the 24-piece CSO, under the direction of Maestro Ken Lam. After that, Lam and company will take the audience on a guided tour of country music history, from Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin'” and Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” to Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Faith Hill’s “Breathe.” Along the way there will also be songs by Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and, the Gambler himself, Kenny Rogers.
“We’re trying to provide a show that’s got a little bit of something for everybody,” says the CSO Artistic Director Kyle Lane. “We have a very robust classical audience that likes to come see the orchestra do the works of Mozart or programs like that, but for the Pops we kind of have a different audience.”
For this show, the orchestra will be joined by two featured vocalists: Patrick Thomas and Rachel Potter. Thomas was a finalist on Season 1 of NBC’s The Voice, and Potter was a finalist on Season 3 of Fox’s The X Factor.
“They’re both really talented singers who specialize in country music,” Lane says. “We’re excited to bring them in, and along with the orchestra, they’re going to play some of the great country classics in pretty chronological order, which I didn’t realize until I started looking at the tunes. It starts out with the artists you’d think of as classic country, Dolly Parton and artists like that, and marches forward to today with artists like Carrie Underwood.”
Rather than simply have the orchestra serve as background accompaniment to Thomas and Potter, however, Lane says the CSO has sought out ways to be an integral part of the show. “For a lot of these songs, we’ve found a way to weave the orchestra into them,” he says. “For example, on Charlie Daniels’ ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia,’ our concert-master is going to play the violin solos. That’s one of the easier ways we figured out, but there will be some creative arrangements with things like ‘Breathe.’ We’re mixing the classical and country styles to deliver something that’s a little more unique.”
On March 3, 1990, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at the Astrodome, kicking off their first concert tour as the Highwaymen.
John Carter Cash accepts award for Johnny Cash who wins Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award Award.
The Country Music Association (CMA) presented industry honors Wednesday night (11/4) during pre-televised festivities leading up to the national broadcast of “The 49th Annual CMA Awards”. W.A.R. artist Jana Kramer presented both the WILLIE NELSON Lifetime Achievement Award and the Joe Talbot Award before the sold-out audience at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to an iconic artist who has attained the highest degree of recognition in Country music and was established to recognize an artist who has achieved both national and international prominence and stature through concert performances, humanitarian efforts, philanthropy, record sales and public representation at the highest level.
This year’s WILLIE NELSON Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the late JOHNNY CASH, whose son JOHN CARTER CASH accepted on his behalf. The JOE TALBOT Award is presented in recognition of outstanding leadership and contributions to the preservation and advancement of Country music’s values and tradition and may be presented to a person as determined by the CMA Board Of Directors to recognize an initiative or long-term contribution.
This year’s JOE TALBOT Award was given to the late GEORGE JONES, whose widow NANCY JONES was in attendance to accept on his behalf. “The CMA AWARDS is a night when we recognize our brightest stars, songwriters, producers, and directors,” said CMA CEO SARAH TRAHERN. “But it is also an occasion for us to honor some of our industry’s most revered icons, who have carried the torch and helped to advance Country music around the world.”
The life and artistry of the Man in Black will be celebrated in Johnny Cash: American Rebel, a CMT original documentary premiering Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. on the 12th anniversary of his death.
The film features exclusive interviews with Johnny Cash’s family, friends and admirers, including Willie Nelson, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Rodney Crowell, record executive Clive Davis, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Kid Rock, producer Rick Rubin, and others.
It marks the first time Cash’s son John Carter Cash, daughter Rosanne Cash and June Carter’s daughter Carlene Carter have all appeared in a film about him.
Johnny Cash: American Rebel is built around 12 essential Johnny Cash tracks spanning four decades that each deliver the passion, musicality and messages against war, injustice, racism and prejudice, including “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Jackson,” “San Quentin,” “Man in Black,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Ring of Fire” and “Hurt.” Each song illustrates a chapter in his life, as well the story of an ever-changing America from the 1950s to modern day, as told through interviews, archival concert footage, photographs and personal artifacts from the Cash family.
“There were so many different facets to him, such an undefinable depth to his character,” John Carter Cash said. “You could see it in his eyes, and it brought on mystery, and it brought on a need for, perhaps, understanding him in a deeper way and this is part of the appeal of who the man was.”
Derik Murray and Paul Gertz from Network Entertainment are executive producers of the film. Jordan Tappis directs and Derik Murray co-directs. Jayson Dinsmore, Lewis Bogach and John Miller-Monzon executive produce for CMT.