Kris Kristofferson

Induction Year: 1977

Birth Name: Kristoffer Kristofferson

Birth Date: 06-22-1936

Place of Birth: Brownsville, Texas

"Songwriting is not for sissies," says Kris Kristofferson. "You've got to have thick skin, and you've got to be willing to make a real pest of yourself, or nobody is going to hear you."

He speaks from personal experience. The former Rhodes scholar and Army helicopter pilot gave up an appointment to be an English literature professor at West Point to take a chance instead at songwriting. When he arrived in Nashville in 1965, none of his previous accomplishments counted for anything on Music Row. Doors were slammed in his face. His guitar was yanked from his hands at a writers' gathering. On his first paying gig, the restaurant owner fired him mid-set. But Kristofferson kept on coming.

Along the way, he landed some colorful day jobs. He pushed a broom as a janitor at Columbia Records' studios, watching sessions by everyone from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan. He flew a helicopter part-time for an oil company down in the Gulf of Mexico. But mostly he lived and breathed songs, running with an incoming freshman class of equally literate and fresh-thinking Nashville tunesmiths like Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall.

In 1969, Kristofferson graduated with honors, when four of his songs — "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "For the Good Times," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "Me and Bobby McGee" — became runaway country hits. In 1970, he won both the CMA and ACM Song of the Year Awards. Suddenly, his tunes were getting cut right and left, by artists from Janis Joplin to Isaac Hayes. Kristofferson signed a recording contract with Monument Records in 1971 and hit the road. And he became one of the defining songwriting voices of the entire decade, pushing country music into new poetic territory.

In more recent years, Kristofferson has balanced a career as a touring troubadour and a Hollywood actor, working with directors like John Sayles and Tim Burton, and developing a penchant for character parts and villains. In 2004, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in 2009 he was honored with a BMI Icon Award and in 2012 the Nashville Songwriters Association International named its lifetime achievement award after him. His recent album, Feeling Mortal, released in 2013, proved that his pen still burns with a flame for poetic song. He currently lives with his wife in Hawaii.

Kristofferson's advice to those aspiring to someday be Songwriting Hall of Fame members: "Tell the truth and love it for the right reasons."
 

"Casey's Last Ride"

Waylon Jennings1971 
John Denver1971 
The Country Gentlemen1972 
Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson1982 
Johnny Cash1985 
Emmylou Harris1996 
 

"Come Sundown"

Bobby Bare1971 #7 country
Dick Curless1971 
George Jones1971 
Roy Rogers1975 
Sammy Davis Jr.1984 
Rodney Crowell2006 

"For the Good Times"

ACM Song of the Year

Kris Kristofferson1970 
Ray Price1970 #1 country, #9 adult contemporary, #11 pop
Roy Drusky1970 
Lynn Anderson1970 
Jimmy Dean & Dottie West1970 
Floyd Cramer1970 
Andy Williams1971 
O.C. Smith1971 
Chet Atkins1971 
Bobby Bare1971 
Kenny Price1971 
Dean Martin1971 
Isaac Hayes1971 
Loretta Lynn1971 
Hank Snow1971 
Kenny Rogers & the First Edition1971 
Wynn Stewart1971 
Johnny Mathis1971 
Elvis Presley1972 
Al Green1972 
Jerry Lee Lewis1972 
Billie Jo Spears1972 
Seventh Wonder1974 #51 R&B
Tennessee Ernie Ford1975 
Irma Thomas1978 
Willie Nelson1979 
Frank Sinatra1979 
Crystal Gayle1993 
Aaron Neville1995 
Dolly Parton1996 
Rita Coolidge1996 
Tyrone Davis2000 
Anne Murray2002 
Lloyd Cole & Jill Sobule2006 
Raul Malo2007 
 

"From the Bottle to the Bottom"

Billy Walker1969 #20 country
Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge1973 

"Help Me Make It Through the Night"

Grammy for Best Country Song

Kris Kristofferson1970 
Ray Price1970 
Bobby Bare1971 
Sammi Smith1971 #1 country, #3 adult contemporary, #8 pop
Dottie West1971 
Glen Campbell1971 
Tom Jones1971 
Olivia Newton-John1971 
Claude King1971 
Lynn Anderson1971 
Loretta Lynn1971 
Conway Twitty1971 
Peggy Lee1971 
Andy Williams1971 
Jerry Lee Lewis1971 
Ernest Tubb1971 
Kitty Wells1971 
Joe Simon1971 #13 R&B, #69 pop
Engelbert Humperdinck1971 
O.C. Smith1971 #38 R&B, #91 pop
Bill Anderson1971 
Joan Baez1971 
Willie Nelson1972 
Jim Ed Brown1972 
Jeannie C. Riley1972 
Billie Jo Spears1972 
Gladys Knight & the Pips1972 #13 R&B, #22 adult contemporary, #33 pop
Elvis Presley1972 
Vikki Carr1972 
Johnny Cash1973 
Tammy Wynette1974 
Bryan Ferry1974 
Charley Pride1975 
Percy Faith1975 
Willie Nelson (re-recording)1979 #4 country
Brenda Lee & Kris Kristofferson1982 
Tina Turner1982 
Anne Murrary2002 
Lorrie Morgan2002 
Kate Campbell2003 
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band2003 
Martina McBride2005 
Mel McDaniel2006 
Bruce Robinson & Kelly Willis2006 
Waylon Jennings2007 
Deana Carter2007 
Heather Myles & Cadillac Cowboys2008 
 

"I'd Rather Be Sorry"

Ray Price1971 #2 country, #70 pop
Patti Page1971 #63 country
Jack Greene1972 
The Statler Brothers1972 
Jim Ed Brown1972 
 

"I've Got to Have You"

Carly Simon1971 
Sammi Smith1972 #13 country, #35 adult contemporary, #77 pop
The Walker Brothers1975 
Lena Horne1994 
 

"Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)"

Kris Kristofferson1971 #4 Adult Contemporary, #26 Pop
Ray Price1971 
Waylon Jennings1971 
Roger Miller1971 #28 country
Bobby Bare1971 
Anita Carter1975 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1975 
Tina Turner1978 
Willie Nelson1979 
Kate Taylor1979 
The Glaser Brothers1981 #2 country
The Country Gentlemen1989 
Johnny Cash1993 
Rosaanne Cash2006 

"Me and Bobby McGee"

(written with Fred Foster)

Roger Miller1969 #12 country
Roy Clark1969 
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition1969 
Kris Kristofferson1970 
The Stonemans1970 
Charley Pride1970 
George Hamilton IV1970 
Gordon Lightfoot1970 
The Statler Brothers1971 
Hank Snow1971 
Merle Haggard1971 
Dottie West1971 
Billy Anderson1971 
Janis Joplin1971 #1 pop
Loretta Lynn1971 
The Grateful Dead1971 
Bobby Bare1971 
Olivia Newton-John1971 
Jerry Lee Lewis1971 #39 adult contemporary, #40 pop
Chet Atkins1973 
Waylon Jennings1973 
Johnny Cash1973 
Thelma Houston1978 
Willie Nelson1979 
Jerry Jeff Walker1979 
Joan Baez1983 
LeAnn Rimes1999 
Anne Murray2002 
Dolly Parton2005 
Dale Ann Bradley2006 
 

"Nobody Wins"

Kris Kristofferson1972 
Ray Price1973 
Brenda Lee1973 #5 country, #70 pop
Lynn Anderson1973 
Frank Sinatra1973 
 

"Once More with Feeling"

(written with Shel Silverstein)

Willie Nelson1970 
Jerry Lee Lewis1970 #2 country
Glen Campbell1970 
 

"One Day at a Time"

(written with Marijohn WIlkin)

Marijohn Wilkin1974 
Marilyn Sellers1974 #19 country, #37 pop
Don Gibson1974 
Willie Nelson1978 
Cristy Lane1980 #1 country
Del Reeves1996 
Mickey Gilley1999 
Crystal Gayle2001 
Lee Greenwood2002 

"Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends"

Bobby Bare1971 #8 country
Freddy Fender1974 
Ronnie Milsap1974 #1 country, #95 pop
Lynn Anderson1974 
Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge1978 
Willie Nelson1979 
Sammy Davis Jr.1984 
Joan Osborne2006 
 

"Stranger"

Kris Kristofferson1975 
Johnny Duncan1976 #4 country
Billy Swan1976 
 

"Sunday Morning Coming Down"

CMA Song of the Year

Ray Stevens1969 #55 country, #81 pop
Kris Kristofferson1970 
Roy Drusky1970 
Bobby Bare1970 
Johnny Cash1970 #1 country, #13 adult contemporary, #46 pop
George Hamilton IV1970 
Lynn Anderson1970 
Roy Clark1970 
Willie Nelson1971 
Ray Price1971 
Hank Snow1971 
Waylon Jennings1971 
Sammi Smith1976 
Frankie Laine1999 
Bobby Osborne's Rocky Top Xpress2006 
Gretchen Wilson2006 
 

"The Heart"

Kris Kristofferson1986 
Lacy J. Dalton1989 #13 country
 

"The Taker"

(written with Shel Silverstein)

Waylon Jennings1970 #5 country
Billy Walker1970 
Kris Kristofferson1971 
Chris Hillman1982 
 

"Viet Nam Blues"

Dave Dudley1966 #12 country
Autry Inman1968 

"Why Me, Lord"

Kris Kristofferson1973 #1 country, #16 pop, #28 adult contemporary
Loretta Lynn1973 
Hank Snow1974 
Tanya Tucker1974 
Brenda Lee1974 
The Oak Ridge Boys1974 
Connie Smith1974 
Elvis Presley1974 
Conway Twitty1975 
Charlie Rich1976 
David Allan Coe1977 
Cristy Lane1978 
Willie Nelson1979 
Jack Greene1988 
Janie Fricke1992 
Johnny Cash1994 
Roy Clark1995 
Mickey Gilley1996 
Shawn Camp2006 
 

"Your Time's Comin'"

(written with Shel Silverstein)

Faron Young1969 #4 country

Kris Kristofferson

Induction Year: 1977