Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farewell to the original Highwayman

Look up Highwaymen in the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll and you get: See Johnny Cash; Waylon Jennings; Kris Kristofferson; Willie Nelson.

Those were the hell raisers that comprised the country super group and had a No. 1 hit with Jimmy Webb's "The Highwayman" and also charted with the Guy Clark staple "Desperados Waiting for a Train." But they weren't the original Highwaymen.

That group came along about 25 years earlier -- in 1961 -- and had its own No. 1 hit, a traditional song originally sung by Georgia slaves in the 19th century.  We can't forget the words to "Michael" and we'll sing it today for the Highwaymen's organizer and lead singer Dave Fisher, who died recently of a bone marrow disease. He was 69.

The Highwaymen, five members from a fraternity at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, charted a year later with "Cottonfields," another popular folk song that we won't need sheet music to sing.

Here was the notice posted on the group's website:

"Our leader, colleague and friend for over 50 years, Dave Fisher, died early last Friday morning in Rye, NY, from myelofibrosis, a disease of the bone marrow. His death was painless and peaceful, and his family, close friends and all of the Highwaymen were able to be together with him in his last few days to say thanks and farewell."

Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
Michael row the boat ashore, hallelujah
River Jordan is chilly and cold, hallelujah
Chills the body but not the soul, hallelujah

1 comment:

  1. isn't that the first song that everybody learns to play on guitar?