April 13, 2024

Kris Kristofferson by Fans, for Fans

In appreciation of the Silver Tongued Devil

1985 Highwaymen First Gig

Highwaymen 1985

The Highwaymen First Gig Performed 4 July 1985

The Highwaymen started with a picnic – Willie Nelson style. The first Highwaymen performance on 4 July 1985 wasn’t even a named Highwaymen gig – That would come later.

Willie Nelson’s July Picnic started in 1973.  The concept came after he performed as part of the lineup for an open-air event in 1972 – The Dripping Springs Reunion.  Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson performed at the 3-day event too, along with other artists.

It wasn’t well advertised, so was poorly attended – But it did give Willie the idea for his July Picnic, which went on to become an annual fundraising event.

The early July Picnic events had teething troubles. Lack of funding meant security and facilities were under par. Years passed, lessons were learned and improvements were made.

In 1985, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson performed with Willie Nelson on stage, as a group. Neil Young, Hank Snow and June Carter Cash joined the lineup along with other well-known performers. The annual July picnic had grown into a well established and supported event that drew famous artists and huge crowds.

The group performed as named individuals. Although they were not billed as the Highwaymen, the 4 July 1985 saw the first live performance of the four iconic artists who went on to record and tour as the famous supergroup.

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The four country/outlaw country artists released their first album as a group in 1985. The album was called Highwayman after the title track – A song by Jimmy Webb. The song was a number one hit. The first album was not released under the group name because the four artists recorded it under their own names. The second album, Highwayman 2 released in 1990 was the same. The four stars released their third studio album, The Road Goes on Forever (1995) under the group name.

The 4 iconic Highwaymen went on into the history books.

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