Forty-two years ago today (March 8, 1980), Willie Nelson rode to the top of the charts with his single "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys." The song was the debut single from Nelson's The Electric Horseman album, which was the soundtrack to the film of the same name.

"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" was Nelson's fifth No. 1 hit; it stayed at the top of the charts for two weeks. But while the Texan made the song famous, he wasn't the first artist to record it: Waylon Jennings sang the tune on 1976's Wanted! The Outlaws, a collaborative album between himself, Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser.

Willie Nelson My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys Single Art

Nelson immortalized his version of "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" on a live concert DVD, Willie Nelson Live at the U.S. Festival. The U.S. Festival was a seven-day event that brought together Van Halen, the Police, U2, Hank Williams Jr. and several other acts in San Bernadino, Calif.

Country America magazine named "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" as one of the Top 100 Country Songs of All Time in 1992. The song was also used as the wake-up call for the astronauts on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1993.

The Electric Horseman movie stars Robert Redford and Jane Fonda; Nelson also appears in the film.

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.

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