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About Kris Kristofferson

Even before he became a leading man in the '70s, Kris Kristofferson had already lived a life worthy of a movie. After rising to the rank of captain, the Brownsville, Texas-born Kristofferson left the army life behind in the mid-'60s to break into Nashville’s song factory, eventually working his way into Johnny Cash’s good graces while serving as a janitor at Columbia Recording Studios. But while Cash would turn the aspiring songwriter’s “Sunday Mornin' Comin’ Down” into a countrypolitan classic, Kristofferson’s crafty blend of down-and-out realism and sly, dark humour would resonate far beyond Music City: Janis Joplin ushered his hitchhiker saga “Me and Bobby McGee” into the rock canon; Gladys Knight & The Pips melted down the folksy ballad “Help Me Make It Through the Night” into smouldering, orchestral soul. And on his own '70s solo releases, Kristofferson’s unvarnished, plain-spoken vocals proved every bit as compelling as his lived-in narratives, whether shining a harsh light on the booze-stenched starving-artist existence with “To Beat the Devil” or exquisitely reminiscing about an old flame on “Jody and the Kid” with a subtle grace worthy of Leonard Cohen. Kristofferson’s unwavering affinity for the raw and the real would earn him entry into the ultimate outlaw-country supergroup, the Highwaymen, where he stood alongside Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as gatekeepers of old-school authenticity in a genre that was becoming increasingly commercialised.

Brownsville, TX
22 Jun 1936

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