84-year old country and songwriting legend, actor, veteran, and Country Music Hall of Famer Kris Kristofferson has officially retired from performing. The decision was made in 2020, but was previously unannounced, and comes as the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to most touring over the past year. It marks the end of a 50-year era for one of the most revered and talented songwriters in history.
On Wednesday (1-27), it was announced that the Kris Kristofferson estate had signed with Morris Higham Management, which also manages the estate of Roger Miller, and the careers of more contemporary artists such as Kenny Chesney and Brantley Gilbert. Long time publicist and manager Tamara Saviano stays on board as public relations director. Also, Kris Kristofferson’s son John is stepping up to oversee the family business overall.
“It’s been amazing to dig in to my dad’s catalog and history with this seasoned group of professionals. [Morris Higham Management] and Tamara are experts on everything from old Nashville to the up and comers, and I can’t imagine a better partnership to bring the full depth of his songwriting to a new generation. The name has always been synonymous with songwriting as an art, and we’re excited to reintroduce his work to new and old fans alike. We have many exciting projects in the works and I look forward to getting them out into the world.”
However, along with the news was confirmation that Kris Kristofferson had chosen to retire in 2020. This was confirmed via Tamara Saviano.
From songs like the 1970 CMA Song of the Year “Sunday Morning Coming Down” recorded by Johnny Cash, to Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” Kris Kristofferson defined what a song was for generations, and still does by continuing to influence composers across all genres. The Rhodes Scholar, military officer, helicopter pilot, and Army Ranger defied his family when he moved to Nashville to be a songwriter, and ended up becoming one of the greatest in history.
Along with his achievements in music—including being a member of the iconic Highwaymen, earning the 2019 CMA Lifetime Achievement Award, winning 3 Grammy Awards, and being inducted in every major songwriters Hall of Fame—Kris Kristofferson also acted in some 70 films throughout his career. A well-respected performer as well—whether fronting a band, or playing acoustic by himself—Kristofferson enthralled audiences for decades.
In 2016, Kristofferson’s wife Lisa addressed concerns about her husband forgetting lyrics in performances that led to rumors of Alzheimer’s. Kristofferson’s memory loss was actually the cause of a medication imbalance. A Lyme Disease diagnosis that set the performer on the right path. It is believed that Kristofferson contracted the disease in Vermont when he was filming the 2006 movie Disappearances. His role required Kristofferson to spend hours crawling around on the forest floor, likely resulting in the bite from an infected tick.
Kris Kristofferson continued to perform throughout 2019, leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, including being backed by members of Merle Haggard’s original band, The Strangers. In November of 2019 when he was to be awarded the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award by the CMA’s, Kristofferson instead decided to play a theater show in Davenport, Iowa, speaking to the commitment he had with his fans.
However, this is not the last we’ve heard from Kris Kristofferson. With the new management structure, the estate plans numerous upcoming projects to keep Kris Kristofferson’s name alive.
You’ve done more than your fair share for music, Kris Kristofferson. Now rest easy for a job well done.