In 1985, Farm Aid sprouted from the vision of country music legends Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp with one mission in mind— to support family farmers and ensuring that everyone can enjoy nourishing food sourced from these dedicated growers. 38 years later, the event still thrives with performances by some of the biggest names in multiple musical genres.
Let’s take a took back at some of the most memorable performances in Farm Aid history with our list of the Top 5 Best Performances over the last 38 years of Farm Aid:
1. Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings Perform “Folsom Prison Blues”
Let’s journey back to the very first Farm Aid in 1985, where this iconic event began its long and successful journey. It etched its name in the world of music history with the unforgettable duet of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, belting out “Folsom Prison Blues” together under the stage lights. This historic performance is a timeless treasure in the world of country music, and it firmly cemented Farm Aid’s enduring impact.
2. Hootie & the Blowfish and Woody Harrelson Cover “Jailhouse Rock”
In a showstopping performance in 1998 that had the crowd on their feet, Hootie & the Blowfish teamed up with Woody Harrelson to deliver an electrifying rendition of Elvis’ legendary track, “Jailhouse Rock.” This unforgettable moment was destined to become a cherished chapter in Farm Aid’s history, given the unlikely duo of performers and the surprise of Woody Harrelson’s remarkably convincing Elvis impersonation!
3. Foreigner Performs “I Wanna Know What Love Is”
The 1985 performance by Foreigner is undeniably one of the ultimate sing-along moments. Their rendition of the ’80s ballad, already a classic for its irresistibly catchy tune that lodges in your mind for days, has cemented its place in music history. This particular performance is a memorable chapter in Farm Aid’s history, thanks to its iconic status.
4. Chris Stapleton Performs “Tennessee Whiskey”
At Farm Aid 2018, Chris Stapleton and Mickey Raphael teamed up to deliver a beautiful rendition of David Allan Coe’s “Tennessee Whiskey.” It was like a musical hug for the soul, with Chris’s voice and Mickey’s harmonica magic, making you want to kick back with a glass of the real thing.
5. Imagine Dragons Perform “I’m So Sorry”
Back in 2015, Farm Aid celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special performance by Imagine Dragons, who rocked the stage with their hit “I’m So Sorry.” This pop/rock sensation brought a vibrant, infectious energy that electrified the entire audience. It showcased how Farm Aid, with its rich history, continues to evolve by embracing the sounds of a new generation.
Today, Farm Aid is still going strong. Celebrating their 38th year, this year’s festival will take place on Saturday, September 23 live from Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana with performances from Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Margo Price, Allison Russell, Lukas Nelson, and many more.
The entire event, presented by DISH, is available to stream for free on the Circle Now app starting at 11:30/10:30c am with the initial press conference, and the live music to follow. Then at 7/6c pm, Farm Aid 2023 will also broadcast on Circle Network with more live performances and highlights from the day with host Natalie Stovall.
Don’t worry if you miss it! The livestream will be available to watch on demand for free for 24 hours following the event on the Circle Now app. Circle Now is available to download on mobile devices, tablets, computers, and Smart TVs for free, no subscription needed! Learn more and download Circle Now now here.