Mr. Kristofferson has a rebel image; almost always wearing a jean jacket and having long hair (basically a hippie). He wasn’t at all the Hollywood type and instead loved hanging out with the blue collar crowd. He preferred biker bars over martini bars and trying to get him into a tuxedo for an award show was like trying to put shoes on Tom Sawyer!
I included “image buster” in my title for a reason because I’m getting ready to share a part of Kris that he didn’t want people to know. His accomplishments before breaking into the music business are way beyond amazing but there was a reason he wanted to keep them hidden from the public which I'll share in a moment. Prepared to be blown away:
1) Kris' father was a Major General in the Air Force (for those of you not familiar with the military he was a real bigwig), so he moved around a lot including to other countries.
2) While in college he was featured in a Sports Illustrated article because of how great he was at football, rugby, and track.
3) He graduated college “Suma Cum Laude.” Basically this means he’s brilliant.
4) He earned the coveted “Rhodes Scholar” to attend Oxford University in London, England. Besides being an academic wonder boy while there he also became a great boxer for the university.
5) He wrote a novel before arriving at Oxford.
6) He joined the Army and became a Captain. While in the Army he flew helicopters and he was an elite Army Ranger.
7) He was so admired in the Army they ashed him to become a professor at West Point. He declined their offer and chose instead to pursue a music career. This decision fractured his relationship with his father and as far as I know, they never reconciled.
8) Kris has been in over 70 television shows and movies. A few of his most famous movies, besides “A Star Is Born” are: “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and "Blade."
As I mentioned earlier, very few people know these things about him and it was intentional on his part. Music was so important to him and he realized if people knew his extraordinary background he wouldn’t successfully break into the music business. Music fans want to believe the person singing has actually lived what their singing about. If people knew Kris was a prodigy they wouldn’t be able to relate to him.
Breaking into the music industry is practically impossible. The fact is, we’ll probably never hear the greatest artists because they couldn't get their feet in the door at one of the record labels. YouTube has revolutionized this process because it allows artists a way to bypass the numerous gate keepers that major record companies' have. Music executives can now sit at their desks and review worldwide talent. Using the number of "views" is a great indicator as to what fans think.
Of course Kris didn't have this luxury when he was trying to break into the industry. He knew that it was important to be at the right place at the right time so he moved to Nashville realizing it would be a long shot but he had to try.
He did all kinds of odd jobs in Nashville to keep him and his family afloat including doing some contract work for a helicopter service. His job was to get oil workers to and from their at-sea platforms. He did a lot of writing while hanging out on the oil rig. A few of these ended up being major hits including: “Help Me Make It Through The Night.”
Then once again Kris showed his brilliance by getting a job as a janitor at Columbia Studios. Employees weren’t supposed to approach the stars but he worked his way in including getting Johnny Cash to read some of his songs. Mr. Cash was very impressed with Kris' work so the door began opening for him. For Kris' first three years in the business other artists were recording his material but finally Mercury Records gave him his own recording contract which was a dream come true for him. He did however end up being a way more accomplished song writer than singer.
I love this story about Kris Kristofferson because I wasn't a big fan of his until I researched his background. I think it’s very rare that someone can have so many extraordinary natural abilities and he actually did something with them. I believe Kris is one of the most (if not the most) extraordinary men in our lifetime. I also think this is one of the most perfect examples of: "You can't judge a book by its cover."