Kristofferson has a rebel image. He isn’t at all the Hollywood type and instead loves hanging out with the blue collar crowd. He prefers biker bars over martini bars and trying to get him into a tuxedo for an award show is like trying to put shoes on Tom Sawyer.
I’m getting ready to share a part of Kris’ life that he didn’t want people to know. His accomplishments before breaking into the music business are way beyond sensational 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. He was also a Golden Glove champion.
3) He graduated college “Suma Cum Laude.”
4) He earned the coveted Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University in London, England.
5) While in college he wrote a short story that was published in the Atlantic Monthly.
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 asked him to become the professor Literature 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.
As I mentioned earlier, very few people know these things about him and it was intentional. 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 lived the life he’s singing about. If people knew Kris was a prodigy they wouldn’t be able to relate to him.
He did all kinds of odd jobs while pursuing his music career including doing some contract work for a helicopter service. His job was to get oil workers to and from their oil platforms at sea. He did a lot of writing while hanging out on the oil rig. A few of these became 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 in Nashville. Employees weren’t supposed to approach the stars but introduced himself to Johnny Cash and got him 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 songwriter than singer.
I love this story about Kris 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. I think Kris is a perfect example of: "You can't judge a book by its cover."