Merle Haggard joined up with Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton and Kris Kristofferson to resurrect the country supergroup The Highwaymen at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.
Kristofferson was awarded a Grammy lifetime achievement accolade during the ceremony, and to mark the occasion he decided to play a medley of hits, including one song by The Highwaymen.
The Highwaymen were founded in 1985 and were comprised of four of the country genre’s most iconic and pioneering musicians; Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Nelson and Kristofferson.
Unfortunately, both Cash and Jennings died in 2003 and 2002 respectively, but this didn’t stop Kristofferson from celebrating his former band’s work during his performance. To help him with his efforts he asked Shelton and Haggard to join him and Nelson on stage for the repertoire.
The foursome played “Highwayman,” the signature song from the supergroup, before they also sang Nelson’s “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” and Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” which was a hit in 1969.
Before the ceremony, Kristofferson was clearly excited about performing alongside Nelson and Haggard again, telling the Associated Press, “One of the best parts of my life has been the guys who are my real heroes are my closest friends.”
He then added, “Willie is the closest friend I have. And Merle, the first time I met him in Nashville, people told me to stay away from him because I had a beard and the hair. I was supposed to be one of them long-haired hippies, and we were friends from the moment we met.”
Shelton’s presence alongside Nelson, Kristofferson, and Haggard was the real surprise though. However, the latter admitted that the trio were happy to have him play because, “He’s the big dog right now.”
Since they met in Nashville in the 1960s, Haggard, Kristofferson, and Nelson have played alongside each other a myriad of times.
Nelson and Haggard even travelled the world together promoting 2007’s Last of the Breed tour, while they also released the 1983 hit single, “Pancho & Lefty.” Meanwhile, Kristofferson and Haggard have performed several shows together over recent years too.
Before they wowed the star-studded crowd on Sunday evening, Haggard, Kristofferson and Nelson walked down the red carpet together. They told reporters that the best part about Kristofferson being recognised for his contribution to music was that they were able to play “together” again.
And it sounds like it didn’t take long for the group to get back into the swing of things. After Nelson was asked how long it took to get their act together, he simply stated, “However long it took to sing the song.”