VIP Kris Kristofferson

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Kris Kristofferson (b. June 22, 1936)

Kris Kristofferson was probably the original hippie outlaw country musician.

A Rhodes scholar who studied English literature at Oxford, Kristofferson was from a military family and flew helicopters in the Army. It was a skill that came in handy, when he managed to land a helicopter in Johnny Cash's yard and convinced him to record "Sunday Morning Coming Down." As told in the documentary Steve Earle narrated about Kristofferson, Cash defied TV censors and looked straight at Kris in the audience when he sang the line:

On a Sunday Morning Sidewalk
I'm wishin' Lord that I was stoned

Kristofferson looked every inch the stoned hippie when he picked up his Song of the Year award at the CMAs for "Sunday Morning." In his song, "If You Don't Like Hank Williams" he wrote, "And hearin' Joni Mitchell feels as good as smokin' grass." It was Tokin' Woman Janis Joplin's version of his song "Me and Bobby McGee" that made him a million-record seller.

Kristofferson's ex-wife Rita Coolidge wrote in her autobiography Delta Lady that he was "a heavy drinker and loved to smoke pot." She describes going to Disneyland with Willie and Connie Nelson after the two couples consumed marijuana brownies.

In the 1980s, Kristofferson said that he doubled up on his marijuana intake when he quit drinking, then gradually, "in stages, I started to clean the windows of perception," which is an interesting choice of phrase considering he's a big William Blake fan. "Kris had a self-destructive streak too,” said Roseanne Cash. “But he was able to transform that into love and beauty and that inspired my Dad.” Maybe it was the marijuana.

Kris joined pot lover Merle Haggard to sing his own lyrics to "Okie from Muskogee" at the 2011 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco:

We don't shoot that deadly marijuana
We get drunk like God wants us to do

On February 22, 2014, Kristofferson appeared with VIP John Trudell at a benefit for Hempstead Project Heart.

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