Kris Kristofferson

With his bushy beard, world-weary songs, gnarled looks, weather-beaten voice and an enticing sense of danger and rebellion, Kris Kristofferson was one of the country "outlaws" who, like his friends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, reconstructed the image of country music from the overly sentimental clichés commonly associated with Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. His grandparents came to the USA from Sweden and his father was a major general in the US Air Force, meaning the family never settled for long in one place. Winning a scholarship to Oxford University, Kristofferson moved to England and started writing songs and, although he went on to join the US Army and became a helicopter pilot, he quit to pursue his music career in 1965 (and was disowned by his family as a result). He headed straight to Nashville, took a job sweeping floors at Columbia Studios, while pitching his songs to publishers. He wrote some of his best songs in this time, leading to a deal with Epic Records when other artists had hits with his songs (Roger Miller with Me And Bobby McGee, Ray Stevens with Sunday Morning Comin' Down and Jerry Lee Lewis with Once More With Feelin'). His career really took off after his then girlfriend Janis Joplin had a Number 1 US hit with his song Me And Bobby McGee and others had success with his original songs like The Taker (Waylon Jennings), Help Me Make It Through The Night (O.C. Smith) and Sunday Morning Comin' Down (Johnny Cash). Kristofferson diversified into movies starring in Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia and Convoy and performed for a while as a duo with his then wife Rita Coolidge; later forming country supergroup The Highwaymen with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. He maintained parallel careers as singer, songwriter and actor through the 1990s and 2000s and his gravelly voice was still proving an irresistible draw in 2011.

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Stations Featuring Kris Kristofferson

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