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Singer, songwriter, and actor Kris Kristofferson made it big with country songs like "Me and Bobby McGee" before starting his film career.
As a newcomer in Nashville, Kris Kristofferson takes extreme measures to get the attention of his musical idol, Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash shares a favorite memory of his friend, Waylon Jennings.
Waylon Jennings fights the Nashville establishment.
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Born on June 22, 1936 in Brownsville, Texas. Son of a military officer, Kristofferson was equal parts intellectual and athlete growing up. He was an award-winning short story writer as well as a Golden Gloves boxer. He graduated from Pomona College in 1958 with a degree in creative writing and went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. While in England, he performed under the name Kris Carson, playing country and folk music.
After leaving Oxford, Kristofferson joined the United States Army in 1960. He served as a helicopter pilot in Germany. He turned down a teaching position at West Point to pursue his dream of becoming a successful songwriter.
Moving to Nashville in 1965, he struggled and took odd jobs to cover the bills, including one working as a janitor at Columbia Records. His first big break came from Roger Miller who recorded Kristofferson's song "Me and Bobby McGee." (This same song was later a rock hit for Janis Joplin in 1971.) The next country star to fall for Kristofferson's music was Johnny Cash. Cash took Kristofferson's song "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and helped make it a big hit. The song was popular with country fans and critics alike, winning the Country Music Association's song of the year award in 1970. Along with writing successful songs for others, he released his first album, Kristofferson, that same year.
While his first album wasn't a huge commercial success, Kristofferson scored with his next effort "Silver Tongued Devil and I" (1971) with his own version of the song "Loving Her Was Easier." He received two Grammy nominations for best song for "Help Me Make It through the Night" and "Me and Bobby McGee" and a nomination for best country song for "For the Good Times" in 1971. In the rest of 1970s continued to a productive, prosperous time for Kristofferson. In 1973 he married singer Rita Coolidge. The two received a Grammy award that same year for best country vocal performance by a duo for "From the Bottom to the Bottle." They won the same award two years later for "Love Please."
Kristofferson also found success as an actor, especially in roles that played off his outlaw image. After a small part in The Last Movie (1971), he had his first major film role in Cisco Pike (1972) and went on do more than 50 films. Two of his most notable roles were in 1974's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and 1976's A Star Is Born, in which he starred opposite Barbra Streisand. Playing the part of a self-destructive musician, Kristofferson earned critical acclaim as well as a Golden Globe Award for his performance.
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