Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 70° Clear
A&E >  Music

At 82, country legend/actor Kris Kristofferson isn’t done yet

Kris Kristofferson attends the 56th annual Grammy Awards - Special Merit Awards Ceremony on Jan. 25, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Todd Williamson / Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)
Kris Kristofferson attends the 56th annual Grammy Awards - Special Merit Awards Ceremony on Jan. 25, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Todd Williamson / Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

In his nearly 83 years, Kris Kristofferson has lived enough life for six men.

After the military brat settled in San Mateo, California, Kristofferson enrolled in Pomona College where he received accolades for his time playing rugby, football, and track and field.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in literature, Kristofferson received a Rhodes Scholarship and studied English literature at Oxford University’s Merton College.

While a student at Oxford, Kristofferson continued playing rugby and added boxing to his schedule. It was here that he also began writing songs, recording under the name Kris Carson with Top Rank Records.

After graduating from Oxford, Kristofferson enlisted in the Army, eventually serving as an Airborne Ranger helicopter pilot and achieving the rank of captain.

After his tour of duty ended in 1965, Kristofferson decided to shift gears and forego an opportunity to teach at West Point to move to Nashville and give his all to a career in music.

He took a job as a janitor at Capitol Records and eventually began to gain traction as a songwriter with songs like “Me and Bobby McGee,” originally performed by Roger Miller, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (Ray Stevens, Johnny Cash), “Help Me Make It Through the Night” (Sammi Smith) and “For the Good Times” (Ray Price).

According to his website, it’s estimated that more than 450 artists has recorded Kristofferson’s songs by 1987.

In 1979, Willie Nelson took that one step further and recorded an entire album of Kristofferson covers, “Willie Nelson Sings Kristofferson.”

“(His) lyrics are literature whether you sing them or read them,” Nelson told the Washington Post in 2007. “They’re words to live by, and that’s about as much praise as you can say about any writer.”

Kristofferson took home the Grammy for country song of the year for “Help Me Make It Through the Night” in 1971, and since has added two more Grammys to his collection.

Around the time Kristofferson’s star as a songwriter started to rise, so to did his career as a performer.

He released his first album, “Kristofferson,” in 1970, followed quickly by eight more albums by the end of the decade.

To date Kristofferson has released 29 albums, including three as part of the Highwaymen alongside Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings and three with singer Rita Coolidge, his second wife.

In 2004, Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Two years later, he received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2007, Kristofferson received CMT’s Johnny Cash Visionary Award.

“John was my hero before he was my friend, and anything with his name on it is really an honor in my eyes,” Kristofferson told the Washington Post that year.

In 2014, Kristofferson was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kristofferson’s most recent album, 2016’s “The Cedar Creek Sessions,” was nominated for the Grammy for best Americana album, his 13th nomination.

In a full-circle moment, Kristofferson now has an award named after him. Singer Loretta Lynn will receive the Kris Kristofferson Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Nashville Songwriter Awards.

Though he’s headlining the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Thursday with Merle Haggard’s former backing band the Strangers, a look at Kristofferson’s career would be incomplete without mentioning his time on screen.

Kristofferson began acting around the same time he began releasing his own music.

He most notably starred in the 1976 remake of “A Star Is Born,” for which he won the Golden Globe for best actor.

Kristofferson has also appeared in the “Blade” trilogy, “Planet of the Apes,” “Fast Food Nation,” “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Joyful Noise” and last year’s “Blaze,” as well as two dozen TV movies.

Today, a few months shy of his 83rd birthday, Kristofferson is dealing with Lyme disease-induced memory loss, but he’s not hanging up his hat just yet.

This tour with the Strangers will keep him in North America through spring, then he’ll spend the summer performing in Europe.

Speaking with Rolling Stone in 2016, Kristofferson didn’t deny that he could one day release more music, but at the time, he was content with the work he’d done thus far.

“I may have some more creative work in me,” Kristofferson said. “But if I don’t, it’s not going to hurt me.”

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com