Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Presley
I knew about Elvis Presley long before I ever heard of Kris Kristofferson.
Growing up in sanctioned South Africa was the only normal I and many of my friends knew. I used to visit my Gran and Grandad in England as often as I could. These forays abroad did cause some aspects of life in SA to seem a little less than ideal, but those thoughts passed quickly.
We got television in 1976, but it was nothing like TV in the UK. The radio played a big role in our house. Dad listened to rugby, I listened to the hit parade – the whole family hung out together to listen to favourite programs like Squad Cars, a crime series that was broadcast on Fridays.
One of the big events in our house was when a new Elvis record came out. Not just any Elvis album, but one of the live concerts. Maybe these albums made a big impact because our television service was so stilted and uninspiring. Those Elvis albums, complete with enthusiastic and very vocal audiences were great sensory experiences. There was no chance that Elvis would ever tour South Africa. Few artists ever did.
We listened to those records so often that when we sang along, I knew exactly when Elvis was going to speak, cough or stop singing and romance his fans. Those times own that often overused word – awesome.
Elvis Introduced me to Kris Kristofferson
Okay, that is an overshoot. Elvis, Kris and I never actually hung out together, but there are many moments when it certainly felt like we were best buddies. Fortunately, these moments have continued throughout my life, although it’s mostly it’s just Kris and I now.
Elvis records Kris’ songs
You might be interested in … Did Elvis Record Why Me … ?
Elvis’ first recording of Help Me Make It Through The Night was released in May 1971 (on Elvis Now) He performed it on many studio albums and it became a standard in his live performances.
The King followed this by recording Kris’ Why Me 20/03/1974 and releasing it on the album, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis.
I can only assume that Kris’ songwriting skills appealed to Elvis. For The Good Times was next. The song was recorded Live At Madison Square gardens (1972) and later found on Welcome TO My World (1977). Depending on which release we refer too, For The Good Times should probably be mentioned before Why Me…
Kris Kristofferson – thoughts about Elvis
What follows is found here This links to a site that is well set out and a real treasure trove for any Elvis fan. I have copied the text below from the site ONLY for ease of reading, but strongly encourage you to spend some time there and to check out the source material. Some people have trouble opening links and by including them and noting only enough extract for Fair Use and to direct to the material.
Kris on Elvis recording his songs
Except: Kris is speaking, sources cited in the text.
“It’s one of the highlights for me to have had Elvis cut my songs. When I was first dreaming of becoming a songwriter I never would have dreamed that Elvis would sing one of my songs but three of them and with so much soul. I feel a lot of gratitude for that. Elvis recorded the following Kristofferson songs; Help Me Make It Through The Night, For The Good Times and Why Me Lord (Live).”
Kris on Elvis Presley
Once again, please check the source link
I was an Elvis fan growing up. Elvis was a force of nature. He was the first white guy who could sing black songs and sing them right. I think it just blew everybody away. It’s like Ray Charles (laughing) being the first pop artist to sing Hank Williams. It’s a particular kind of soul. Nobody would have dared to sing a Little Richard song like Elvis had and try to get the spirit of Little Richard in there. (laughs) But Elvis could and he did on Rip It Up and Tutti Fruiti. The first time I heard Elvis’ music was when I was in college. I was driving across California and I stopped at some truck stop and I heard this thing on the radio and I said,’Who’s that?’ And the waitress said, ‘Oh God, that’s Elvis’, like I was the stupidest thing goin’. (laughs)
But it was his first record and I haven’t been the same since then.
******The above text is an edited transciption for the FTD book Writing For The King by Ken Sharp The above is included here from http://lyrics.elvispresley.com.au**************
A Star is Born
Kris was Barbra Streisand’s co-star in the ’76 movie. It could just as easily have been Elvis in the role. Streisand is said to have spoken to Elvis and Col Parker about the film in 1975.
Streisand is quoted as follows, ““I think Elvis Presley really wanted to do [the movie],” Streisand said, “but the Colonel kind of talked him out of it. Elvis would have been monumental. It’s a great pairing. But we also loved Kris and thought he could do it.” (source)
Kristofferson is quoted from the same (source) as having to a newspaper in ’76, “There were reports that Mick Jagger was going to do it, or Elvis Presley, or Bob Dylan. Barbra kept calling and telling me about the script and singing the songs; she’d carry on for half an hour. At first, I was afraid they were going to make the husband the kind of singer you’d find in a Las Vegas lounge. I didn’t think that was a good idea, and I told them so. He didn’t necessarily have to be a superstar, but he had to be an important attraction. They wanted him to be a drinker, like in the previous versions. That wasn’t realistic in today’s music world. So it was changed to drugs.”
Pic is Public Domain