Doctors began treating Kris Kristofferson with drugs that only made his situation worse since they thought his excruciating health symptoms might be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Kristofferson, now 86, is good thanks to a timely Lyme disease diagnosis and the appropriate course of treatment.
He also recognizes his mortality and wants the opening three lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s song “Bird on a Wire,” which are immortalized in his tombstone, even though he is an immortal celebrity. The instant Kris Kristofferson unleashed his vocals, the world realized a star had been born. Since he began his profession about 55 years ago, his silvery hair, silver eyes, and finely trimmed beard have made him a public darling.
He claims that the beard was not intended. In an interview with the Guardian, Kristofferson said, “I developed pneumonia and had to spend a week in the hospital; I didn’t shave the whole time. When I first appeared, a magazine took a photo of me and dubbed me “the new face of country music.” Willie has also had a wild look ever since that time.
The Marvel’s Blade series actor claims responsibility for Willie Nelson’s beard and adds, “You know, he didn’t even have a beard back then. The first beard in country music history was mine. And he used to mistreat me for it!” The Texas-born Casanova is an Oxford scholar, a defensive back, a boxer, a helicopter pilot, a superstar actor and musician, and a family man, among other accomplishments. He also sets trends for facial hair.
Kris Kristofferson is one of the genuinely great wordsmiths of our time, and if you miss that sense, you probably never will. After graduating from Oxford in 1960, he entered the military before finding employment as a commercial pilot with Petroleum Helicopters International in Louisiana. He spent his free time sitting on an oil platform, writing songs that would become successes, including “Help Me Make it Through the Night” and “Bobby McGee.”
The young musician took a risk to stand out when he met Johnny Cash while serving as a janitor in the recording studio.
According to Cash of Kristofferson, “I discovered him, and so did a lot of other people about the same time,” he added in a previous interview. I obtained a lot of Kris’s songs in this way, but one day he got so eager that he flew a helicopter into my yard and dropped off a tape of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” for me.
It was then that I decided to give Kris some serious consideration. I heard that tune, mentioned him on a network television program, and he promptly left. Later, he stole my performance at the Newport Folk Festival and performed admirably. I was pleased with him. Even a helicopter couldn’t fly to the heights that Kristofferson’s career attained.
And many of his songs, like “For the Good Times” and “Why Me Lord,” which he regards as his heroes, have been covered by artists including Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, and Bob Dylan. He formed the supergroup The Highwaymen in 1985 with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. The title track from their debut album was named the Academy of Country Music’s single of the year.
“Every time I was up there on stage, or at least at some point during the performance, I had to pinch myself to ensure I was there. Every single one of these men was my hero before I even met them, said Kristofferson, who volunteered his services as a janitor one Saturday at Nashville’s Columbia Recording studios since Waylon was recording a demo then.
He was unlike anything I’d ever heard. Because, although being only human, or once was, Johnny Cash was always much bigger than life. He always appeared to be straight out of Mount Rushmore.
Bob Dylan, who also made recordings in the studio Kristofferson cleaned, is his primary inspiration. The “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” vocalist recalled his first experience with Dylan by saying, “It was an incredible eye-opener to see how he worked. At the time, I was very much in awe of him. But I never communicated with him in any way. I wanted to avoid bothering him. I was merely emptying the garbage cans as I observed him.
Since becoming a celebrity, Kristofferson has performed several Dylan songs and claims, “He’s still a hero.” Every performer who has done my music justice has done so better than I have. Because of our relationship, I suppose Janis singing “Bobby McGee and Me” was the one that affected me,” he remarked of the singer who was once his sweetheart and passed away in 1970.
“I only recently got to know her before she passed away. However, we were near. Sadly, she passed away recently [when I first heard her rendition]. And it floored me,” he recalled of the woman, whose posthumous recording of “Me and Bobby Mcgee” spent weeks at the top of the charts in 1971.
With three wives—singer Rita Coolidge, actress Fran Beer, and his current wife Lisa Meyers—Kristofferson has fathered eight children. He has also dated celebrities like Jane Fonda, Carly Simon, and Samantha Eggar.
Although Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand, his co-star in A Star is Born (1976), had undeniable chemistry, they never got romantically connected. The award-winning rock performer Kristofferson said he was in awe of the extremely well-known Streisand, whose on-screen persona was the aspiring singer. Later, he admitted, “I was scared to death of her,” adding, “It’s exciting to work with someone who has that much talent.”
His health started to deteriorate noticeably in the late 1990s.
Kristofferson’s health was excellent until 1999, when he underwent successful cardiac bypass surgery.
He began exhibiting several incapacitating symptoms in 2004, at which point he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which ought to have been the first clue that a Lyme test was necessary.
Painful spasms spread across Kris’s back and legs, creating severe discomfort. His nerve endings experienced severe contractions the size of golf ball-sized knots due to the acute spasms.
His ailment was treated using various methods, such as massage, heat therapy, and acupuncture. A rheumatologist eventually gave a spinal cortisone injection, and a modest dose of an antidepressant was recommended to ease the agony.
His wife of 40 years, Lisa Meyers, said, “He had painful knees and annual knee shots, a pacemaker for arrhythmias-which we now know could be from Lyme-and so much Advil for headaches that he got anemic.”
“He just didn’t look healthy-looking after a year of taking iron supplements and seeing a hematologist.”
In 2016, after she insisted that her husband visit an integrative physician, he was formally identified as having Lyme disease. He spent a lot of time crawling through the grassy grounds of a Vermont woodland when filming Disappearances (2006), according to Meyers, who believes he got bitten by an infected tick.
The drug for Alzheimer’s and depression, according to Meyers, “he was taking all these medications for things he doesn’t have, and they all have side effects.” Meyers says that Kristofferson recovered following three weeks of Lyme disease treatment. “Suddenly, he came back. It’s simple to overlook that he is even fighting on certain days when he acts completely normal, she said.
However, Kristofferson wants the following words inscribed on his tombstone when the time comes: “Like a bird on the wire, Like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”
The career of Kris Kristofferson has been incredible! He is truly top-notch as a pilot, scholar, musician, actor, and father!
We are incredibly grateful that he obtained a correct diagnosis and that medical professionals were able to assist him in managing his Lyme disease symptoms.