Kris Kristofferson, Turning 85, Retires

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Photo: Marina Chavez; used with permission

Kris Kristofferson, a truly legendary singer-songwriter as well as actor, has officially retired. The news, announced today (Jan. 27, 2021), was revealed in an “oh, by the way” manner in a press release from Morris Higham Management (MHM), which will represent 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.

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.”

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 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.

Kristofferson will celebrate his 85th birthday on June 22, 2021 with several special projects.

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11 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
  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

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