The Highwaymen were a college folk group, which originated at Wesleyan University. Their version of this song was arranged by lead tenor Dave Fisher and reached #1 in the US, selling over one million copies. The song's success spread around the world, to the tune of five million sales making it a pop culture phenomenon, like another folk tune of the same era, "Tom Dooley
." The Highwaymen followed it up with another slave song "Cotton Fields, " this time written by blues musician Leadbelly. "Cotton Fields" peaked at #13 in the US and was later a hit for The Beach Boys.
The Highwaymen disbanded in 1964 and Fisher was the only member of the band to continue to make music his profession, working as a songwriter, arranger and producer for movies and television shows. The group came together again in 1987 for a concert for their 25th college reunion. Since then, they have performed 10-12 concerts a year until Fisher's death on May 7, 2010.