Outlaw country pioneer Kris Kristofferson celebrates his 80th birthday today. The Texas-born artist has had a remarkable career, and his role in rebelling against the once homogenized Nashville sound helped change the course of country music forever.
Outlaw Country (Ch. 60) host Mojo Nixon said it best when introducing Kristofferson at his 2013 Town Hall in Nashville (see videos below).
“Kris Kristofferson is one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” he said. “Kris Kristofferson is hillbilly music’s greatest poet. He sings for the damned, the doomed, the delirious, the demented, the forsaken, the forlorned and the forgotten. His songs are real – real American music. Nashville didn’t change Kris Kristofferson, he changed Nashville.”
Although he’s released dozens of albums of his own recordings, it was the songs he penned for other artists (Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley and many others) that often became the biggest hits — songs like Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through the Night, For the Good Times, and Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.
He also joined forces in the ’80s with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to form the country supergroup The Highwaymen.
But he didn’t stop with music. He parlayed his success in the music industry into an impressive career in film as well. He worked with top filmmakers in more than 100 films including A Star Is Born, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor, Blade (and its two sequels) and the Planet of the Apes remake.
In celebration of his 80th birthday, he released a new album earlier this month called The Cedar Creek Sessions, which follows up his 2013 album, Feeling Mortal. The 25-track collection of songs was recorded over three days in the summer of 2014 in Austin, Texas, and features his some of his biggest hits.
Additionally, Legacy Recordings celebrated his milestone earlier this month with the release The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection, a 16-CD deluxe box set that’s considered “the most comprehensive Kris Kristofferson musical library ever assembled.”
Clearly, the renegade, rabble rousing Country Music Hall of Famer shows no signs of slowing down as an octogenarian.
And luckily, he’ll do so with his memory mostly in tact thanks to the discovery that his debilitating memory loss was not actually due to Alzheimer’s or to dementia as previously thought, but rather because of Lyme disease, which is treatable.
Happy birthday, Kris. We can’t wait to see what the coming years will bring!