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Kris Kristofferson

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Kris Kristofferson's early renown as a country/pop songwriter helped define the genre via hits like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "For The Good Times." In addition to having an estimated 450 singers cover his songs over the years, he became a noteworthy recording artist in his own right and a popular actor for many years after writing songs for and appearing in Dennis Hopper's 1971 film The Last Movie. 

Born in Texas and raised in a military family, he was a Golden Gloves boxer who studied creative writing at Pomona College in California. The Phi Beta Kappa graduate earned a Rhodes scholarship to study literature at Oxford, where he boxed, played rugby and continued to write songs. After graduating from Oxford, Kristofferson served in the army as an Airborne Ranger helicopter pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. 

In 1965, Kristofferson turned down an assignment to teach at West Point and, inspired by songwriters like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, moved to Nashville to pursue his music. "When I was in the army, I was one of the few people outside of his personal friends who knew about Willie Nelson," Kristofferson recalls. "I listened to a disc jockey who happened to be a Willie fan. He would play Willie's songs and talk about him all the time. By the time I got to Nashville, he was a superhero to me. For guys like me, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were two gods we worshipped. Then Willie and I got to be best friends. I came from a position of idolizing him to finding out he's the funniest son of a bitch you could be around." 

After struggling in Music City for several years, Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. Kristofferson scored his first success as a songwriter with "Viet Nam Blues," which was recorded by Dave Dudley.  As a recording artist, Kristofferson was signed to Epic Records and released a lone single, "Golden Idol"/"Killing Time" in 1967, but it missed the charts. Roy Drusky had a Top 40 country hit with "Jody and the Kid" in 1968. Kristofferson's breakthrough came with Roger Miller's recording of "Me and Bobby McGee" and an appearance on Johnny Cash's network TV show. 

As his songs were being recorded by numerous country artists, Kristofferson moved to Los Angeles and launched his own singing career. Signed to Monument Records, he released his debut Kristofferson in 1970, but it failed to sell in big numbers. That frustration was tempered by the success of "Sunday Morning Coming Down," which won the Country Music Association's Song of the Year award for 1970. 

Kristofferson finally broke through as a solo artist with his 1971 album The Silver Tongued Devil and I, and with a re-release of his debut under the title Me and Bobby McGee, which went gold. Heralded as an artist's artist, Kristofferson has starred in more than 44 films, including Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and A Star is Born, with Barbra Streisand. In 1996 Kristofferson gave one of his finest performances as a murderous Texas sheriff in director John Sayles' outstanding Lone Star.

He's recorded in excess of 25 albums, including three with pals Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings as part of the Highwaymen. Kristofferson was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in August of 2003.

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