Kris Kristofferson Biography – Early Life
Born 22 June 1936 in Brownsville, Texas.
Parents Mother, Mary Ann Ashbrook, Father Henry Kristoffer Kristofferson. Henry Kristofferson’s position in the air force meant the family moved a lot while the children were growing up. Later, they settled in California, later still, Henry Kristofferson retired from the Air Force as a Major General, but continued to fly commercially, then for an airline.
Kris had a comfortable childhood materially. His mother was liberal and encouraged him to treat all people equally, especially the local Mexicans. Kris speaks fluent Spanish. He listened to music and became a fan of Hank Williams, who he still references today in his interviews and during his concerts. He starts one of his interviews (available on DVD) by saying, “I was an army brat.”
Brownsville, Texas – Kris Kristofferson’s home town. A 2013 interview by HustonPress quotes Kris as saying:
“Growing up in Brownsville was the best thing I remember of my life” &
“to me it was bare feet and dirt roads and good people”
After graduating from San Mateo High School, he enrolled in Pomona College, California, in 1954. Kris said, in an interview for the college mag, that he chose this school because it was the only one that he applied to that let him play football. He had no real academic goals, but loved sporting activities. Young Kris performed well in rugby, football, track and field. Under pressure to choose a career, he considered teaching but wasn’t sure. His aspiration to become an author was growing.
After graduating from college in 1958, Kris spent time in England. He earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and while there he was awarded his Blue for boxing, but more importantly for me, he started writing songs. For himself though, he has said in many interviews, that the works of the poet, William Blake, awoke something in him. Blake valued commitment and personal freedom. In the Pomona College mag interview by Michael Balchunas, Kris is quoted as saying, “I studied his (Blake’s) commitment to being an artist, to not being enslaved to another man’s system.”
Kris Kristofferson was born into the military. Both grandfathers and his own father were military officers, so after achieving his masters degree at Oxford, it was Kris’ turn. He was trained at flight school in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and at Airbourne Ranger school. He became a skilled helicopter pilot, and was stationed in West Germany. By 1965 and the end of his tour he was a Captain in the U S Army. Kris had been writing songs and had put a band together while stationed abroad. On returning he was offered a teaching post at West Point, but he was becoming his own man. Throwing caution to the wind, he defied his family and took the harsher path, the hazardous road to Nashville.
Early musical interest
Young Kris was a Hank Williams fan. His explored writing at college and developed this further while studying at Oxford University. He recorded for Top Rank Records under the name Kris Carson, under the management of Larry Parnes. He continued writing songs while stationed in West Germany and formed a band.
Picture from Amazon cd cover graphic, Silver Tongued Devil & I. Used for review, educationand to promote sales for the artist through the official Amazon site. I own this cd.
Rhodes Scholars, Oxford, and the Creation of an American Elite By Thomas J. Schaeper, Kathleen Schaeper
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