In 1985, the year they were formed, they showed everyone why they were so special at the Farm Aid festival in Champaign, Illinois. As Johnny Cash introduced each member of the band, the crowd erupted with cheers before the four-piece kicked into their No. 1 song, “Highwayman.”
It’s a beautiful example of how each member came together to create something bigger than any one of them, yet still managed to maintain their unique voice.
Farm Aid began in 1985 by Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young to raise money for family farmers. The concert was organized in part thanks to Bob Dylan’s comments at the 1984 Live Aid concert, in which he expressed hope that some of the aid from that concert would go towards America’s reeling farmers dealing with mortgages. The concert was so successful it led to the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, which helped keep farms from going into foreclosure.
Farm Aid has since raised millions of dollars to support farmers. The Highwaymen went on to release three albums over their 10-year time together.