Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
In 1958 five freshman at Wesleyan University, pledging for a campus fraternity, were told to put together some entertainment. Organizer and lead tenor Dave Fisher, Bob (Robert Sherwin) Burnett (b 7 February 1940, Providence RI; d 7 December 2011, East Providence), Steve Butts, Chan Daniels (d 2 August 1975) and Steve Trott formed a folk-revival group in the heyday of the Kingston Trio, called themselves the Highwaymen and went on to have a number one hit with 'Michael' in July 1961. (That's 'Michael' as in 'Michael, Row the Boat Ashore'.) Trott went to law school and was replaced by Gil Robbins (father of the actor Tim Robbins). They made albums (The Highwaymen; Encore!; Standing Room Only!; Hootenanny with the Highwaymen; March On, Brothers; Homecoming! Recorded Live at Wesleyan University; and One More Time!), released ten singles (four more minor chart entries '61-2) and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show three times before disbanding in 1964.
Fisher stayed in the entertainment business, working as a music director in films and TV. Burnett served in the Army Reserve, graduated from Harvard law school and worked in law and banking. Then in 1990 country superstars Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson were performing together as the Highwaymen. The original group sued, or threatened to sue, and the new Highwaymen disarmed them by asking them to open for them at a show in Los Angeles: they had already been talking about re-forming for occasional gigs, and now they went on to a second career as a group. New albums were called In Concert, The Spirit & The Flesh, Still Rowing!, The Water of Life: A Celtic Collection, and their last, When The Village Was Green, in 2007. Fisher sometimes gave the lead to Burnett in later years, especially after Burnett learned he had cancer. As it happened, Burnett outlived Fisher (d 7 May 2010), but the friends had had considerable success together.