Kris Kristofferson, Now 88, Is Retired

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Photo: Marina Chavez; used with permission

Kris Kristofferson, a truly legendary singer-songwriter as well as actor, has been officially retired for several years now. The news, announced January 27, 2021, was revealed in an “oh, by the way” manner in a press release from Morris Higham Management (MHM), which represents Kristofferson’s estate. Among his many career highlights are his composition, “Me and Bobby McGee,” a #1 hit for Janis Joplin in 1971; his musical collaboration with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen; and his acting roles in such films as 1976’s A Star is Born and 1973’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. Kristofferson turned 88 on June 22, 2024.

The announcement noted in its second paragraph, “In the wake of his father’s retirement in 2020, Kristofferson’s son John steps in to oversee all of the family’s businesses. John and his father’s longtime public relations rep will coordinate future endeavors with MHM, spearhead special projects, and will continue to manage the Kristofferson indie record label KK Records.

“Kristofferson is the artist that every artist strives to be,” said MHM President Clint Higham. “He is an artist’s artist. If Mount Rushmore had a place for songwriters, Kris would be on it.”

John Kristofferson added, “We have many exciting projects in the works and I look forward to getting them out.”

Kris Kristofferson and Rosanne Cash at the Hollywood Bowl, April 29, 2023 (Photo: Joshua Timmermans)

The legend made an increasingly rare public appearance when he performed during both nights of the Willie Nelson 90th birthday concerts at the Hollywood Bowl on April 29-30, 2023. At the first show, he accompanied Rosanne Cash to sing his “”Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again).” The following night, he joined Norah Jones for “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

Kristoffer Kristofferson was born in the border town of Brownsville, Tex., on June 22, 1936. Among his many unique accomplishments, Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, a college football player, a bartender, a Golden Gloves boxer, a forest fighter, and an Army Ranger who flew helicopters.

Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “For the Good Times,” were all chart-topping hits. By 1987, it was estimated that more than 450 artists had recorded Kristofferson’s compositions.

Watch Kristofferson perform “Me and Bobby McGee” in 1979

Related: When Joplin’s recording hit #1

The three-time Grammy winner has recorded 30 albums, including three as part of the country music supergroup the Highwaymen.

It’s estimated that Kristofferson has acted in more than 70 films. In 1977 he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in A Star Is Born, opposite Barbra Streisand.

Watch the trailer for A Star Is Born

Kristofferson is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, winner of the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was honored with the American Veteran’s Association’s “Veteran of the Year Award” in 2002. In 2009, BMI lauded Kristofferson with the Icon Award. In 2014, he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the PEN Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

He asserted that poet William Blake was correct in asserting that anyone divinely ordered for spiritual communion but buries his talent will be pursued by sorrow and desperation through life and by shame and confusion for eternity.

“(Blake) is telling you that you’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do,” Kristofferson said in the Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music.

Related: Watch Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot and Ronnie Hawkins sing “Me and Bobby McGee”

Many of Kristofferson’s recordings are available here.

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29 Comments so far

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 28 January, 2021, 09:20

    As much as I’ve always enjoyed Kris in films, and very much admired the many classic country songs he’s penned, the guy couldn’t sing a lick. If you ever saw him perform with The Highwaymen, it was a sad, sad, spectacle, as each or those renowned and legendary country voices took a turn at a song, it was thrilling. And then came Kristofferson who, you could see was, himself, thrilled to be up there with those other guys, but when the poor guy had to sing one of his great songs, it was immediately apparent that he did not belong in their company as a singer. Even both Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, who both had a kind of talking singing styles, similar to Kristofferson’s, somehow managed to transcend their vocal limitations with their big voices and the personalities that they transmitted through them. While Kris just sounded weak and wimpy, live at least. He was able to pull it off somewhat better on his recordings. Throughout the duration of The Highwaymen’s mostly thrilling show, where each of the other guys were so great in their song spots, it got to the point where you dreaded Kristofferson’s songs coming up, as much as I loved the songs themselves. But beyond that, it sure seems like Kris has had a wondrous and remarkable life.

    Reply this comment
    • Bucky
      Bucky 28 January, 2021, 10:21

      The old “He Can’t Sing” blubbering. For 50 years-plus, Kristofferson, Dylan, Springsteen, and whoever else, “can’t sing.” Woe to the uninitiated, who still can’t figure things out.

      Reply this comment
    • Aud
      Aud 28 January, 2021, 14:35

      He even remarked on his voice but you are full of crap. I’ve been a fan since 1971 and love his voice. Your critique is wicked, even hateful. Think you have a problem.

      Reply this comment
    • Da Dick
      Da Dick 28 January, 2021, 22:00

      Why would anyone feel the need to be critical in responding to this article? If you don’t like Kristofferson you can kiss my ass.

      Reply this comment
      • ELDIE
        ELDIE 24 June, 2021, 02:26

        I agree with DA DICK about DA MICK, Mr Negative. I saw Kristofferson twice live. Each time a great performance. I saw Dylan twice too. Each time a great performance. DA MICK your a loser. Sorry to say. I suggest you get the wax out of your ears.

        Reply this comment
    • beatseeker
      beatseeker 22 June, 2022, 10:40

      if you don’t like kris, you won’t like me either, (to quote charlie daniels)

      Reply this comment
    • jb
      jb 23 June, 2022, 01:03

      I have always found pleasure in the sound of his voice

      Reply this comment
    • Cowboy from some biker friends
      Cowboy from some biker friends 19 October, 2022, 18:29

      He sang great in his own range. A lot of us could sing along. It was easy. I saw him and met him at an Asbury Concert in NJ. He was still drinking then but so was I; we had a great time. He’s timeless and such a great talent.

      Reply this comment
    • Maryanne
      Maryanne 12 August, 2023, 01:13

      Funny, Kris because of everything he stood for, was my favorite. Willie, Waylon and Johnny also remarkable, principled talents.

      Reply this comment
  2. beatseeker
    #2 beatseeker 28 January, 2021, 13:09

    gonna have to disagree… kris has one of the most beautiful voices in music!

    Reply this comment
  3. James
    #3 James 28 January, 2021, 15:27

    Krio is the greatest bar none his songs will live forever

    Reply this comment
  4. Redust
    #4 Redust 28 January, 2021, 15:32

    Listen to his vocals on “Loving her was easier,” and get back to me.

    Reply this comment
  5. Butt
    #5 Butt 28 January, 2021, 18:05

    That’s not true he has quite a distinctive voice. I love his voice! Your opinion is rubbish. Kris for me is The man of the century”

    Reply this comment
  6. AJH
    #6 AJH 28 January, 2021, 20:12

    Kris has been called “the thinking woman’s sex symbol”. His writing is his biggest gift, but his voice is uniquely fitting a gifted communicator.
    When you listen to him with headphones, you frequently lose where he stops and your soul begins.
    Whether he is piercing your heart with a sensuous love song, or singing political anthems that support the downtrodden, Kris has the raw truth of someone who has lived his songs and survived to sing another day.
    All I could say to Kris, is an unqualified Thank you, sir.

    Reply this comment
  7. Mike
    #7 Mike 28 January, 2021, 22:42

    I love this time in our history. People will go out of their way to kneecap someone. I didn’t care for him but he was successful and spoke to many, many people. Just shut up if you can’t offer something positive.

    Reply this comment
  8. RecordSteve
    #8 RecordSteve 28 January, 2021, 23:50

    I believe in positive comments, but this is an open forum & some people are trying too hard to be an original downer. Don’t be surprised when he makes it to Rock & Roll Heaven….

    Reply this comment
  9. Cisley
    #9 Cisley 27 June, 2021, 15:22

    So not to get totally off the topic of voices BUT I will, I have great memories of this movie. My ex-husband and I were living in the City when it came out. A couple of guys who worked for Bill Graham came into the welding supply company he worked for. Don’t know how the movie came up in conversation but they gave him 2 tickets to see it. Gawd, I do love that movie.

    Just seeing the trailer took me back to what I feel is the best version of A Star is Born.

    Reply this comment
  10. Big dog
    #10 Big dog 26 September, 2021, 16:48

    I was not introduced to Kris until 1983. I was 19. My uncle introduced me to his music and it was instant awe of the man. Darbys Castle started it and the hits just kept coming. The more I know about him and his music the more I respect and admire him. Distinctive voice yes. Love his delivery. Journey and Reo Speedwagon are who I grew up with but Kris is who I admire and would love to see perform the most. One of the last of his kind.

    Reply this comment
    • The Maestro
      The Maestro 24 June, 2023, 00:47

      Can’t sing? Rubbish. He sings like a person on a mission; a sailor with the wind behind him; with a passion only a lover can understand. Seen him a few times in Melbourne and he was great. Rather listen to him any day than to someone who might always sing in key but has no passion. He is one of the greats. There are plenty of singers who are not wonderful but they have a lot of fans because they are passionate about their work. I’ll listen to Kris along with others who reputedly can’t sing but gee they fill the room.

      Reply this comment
  11. Daria
    #11 Daria 24 June, 2022, 18:55

    Kris never claimed to be a great singer
    He is a brilliant poet lighten up undeserved criticism

    Reply this comment
  12. Vettech3
    #12 Vettech3 29 June, 2022, 14:58

    My dad was already flying as a pilot for Petroleum mhelicopters incorporates based in Lafayette, Louisiana in the fall of 1968 following retirement from the navy. When Kristofferson got hired as a pilot, he would sing and play guitar to entertain the other pilots at the end of the work day. My dad mentioned this to our family on one occasion when he had a week off. Although, at that time I was about 15yrs old but his name was not well known. I did recognize them name. When I recall this, It does bring up memories even though my dad was killed instantly in a helicopter crash working for Shell Oil based in Venice Louisiana, last week of February 1973. Would have been 47 in March 1973.

    Always been a big fan since I really started listening to country music. Happy Birthday to you Kris and many more to come.

    Reply this comment
  13. nullvoice84
    #13 nullvoice84 1 February, 2023, 01:30

    For someone whom Da Mick claims “can’t sing”, Mr. Kristofferson had many incredible songs and awesome albums! I’d like to see Da Mick do better! BTW: the demos that got tossed into a pile that Kris kept trying to get to Mr. Cash: I’ll bet the music execs who tossed them still weep that they ignored those!

    Reply this comment
  14. Julie
    #14 Julie 16 March, 2023, 08:35

    Kris still remains my very favorite country singer; ALWAYS WILL.
    (to all those who put him down; bite my ass)

    Reply this comment
    • Nestley
      Nestley 25 June, 2024, 19:38

      Kris was great with Country & whatever else he sang. His songwriting ability, awesome. Legend, to say the least! I think that some people need to “shove it” when it comes to criticism of an icon! As I said: LEGEND!

      Reply this comment
  15. nitabird
    #15 nitabird 10 June, 2023, 17:05

    Idiot! Love his voice, live or recorded.

    Reply this comment
  16. Nestley
    #16 Nestley 25 June, 2024, 19:44

    I saw the original A Star is Born & I was smitten with Kris from there on in. Being 13-14 in 1971 when Me & Bobby McGee came out on Janis Joplin’s KP, I became a lifelong fan of Kris. He never DID get the acknowledgement he deserved from writing songs, especially “Me & Bobby McGee”, which is my favorite Country song as a young teenager. He paved the way for the Eagles, as Ronstadt did, also many Country Western/Pop singers/groups. He’s one of a kind. People these days need to be not so critical about this man, a LEGEND, to say the very least. Loved him, his voice, & his shows throughout my life. Period.

    Reply this comment

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