Kris Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas, but, as the son of a U.S. Army officer, grew up all over the country. After graduating with honors from Pomona College with a degree in literature, Kristofferson attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship; that's where he first tried to launch his music career, signing with Top Rank Records under the name Kris Carson. After college, Kristofferson followed in his father's footsteps: He enrolled in the Army and became a helicopter pilot and, eventually, earned the rank of Captain; however, the pull of the music industry was too strong, and the future country star left the military to pursue a career as a songwriter and singer. Kristofferson relocated to Nashville in 1965 and, soon after, famously landed a helicopter on Johnny Cash's front lawn to hand-deliver a song, "Sunday Mornin' Coming Down;" although Cash was not home at the time, he listened to Kristofferson's demo and decided to record the tune, making it a No. 1 hit. Propelled by Cash's success, Kristofferson juggled a job as a commercial helicopter pilot with songwriting in Music City before signing the first record deal of his own, with Epic Records, in 1967. In addition to his successful music career -- more than 30 albums released and numerous awards and accolades earned -- Kristofferson became a successful actor and has appeared in more than 60 movies and dozens of TV shows. Kristofferson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
- Birthday: June 22, 2936
- Did You Know …: Kristofferson’s song “To Beat the Devil” helped keep Eric Church going before his big break.
- Required Reading: Top 10 Kris Kristofferson Songs