Kris Kristofferson has retired from the music industry after a 50-year career in country music.
Though Kristofferson officially retired in 2020, the news wasn’t made public until a press release last week announcing that Morris Higham Management would take over handling his estate from longtime manager Tamara Saviano. The press release also noted that Kristofferson’s son John Kristofferson has taken the reins of the family business.
“It wasn’t any big stake in the ground, like ‘I’m retiring! I’m not doing this anymore!,’” Saviano explained to Variety. “It was an evolution, and it just felt very organic. There was no big change—it was this sort of slow ‘What should we do now? What’s next?’ And here we are in the middle of a pandemic… It was like, ‘Yeah, let’s retire.’ To us on this side of the fence it was an organic, normal, ‘things are changing’ thing. Kris is aging; Kris is 84. It didn’t feel like such big news to us. That’s why there was no announcement: It was just sort of a slow changing of the guard thing.”
Saviano also said that Kristofferson would continue to put out archival releases, and dismissed rumors that he was retiring due to ill health. “Kris’ body of work will live on—and hopefully he’ll live on for a lot longer. He’s really healthy and in good shape.”
But Saviano also told Variety she didn’t want to say Kristofferson would never record or perform live again, “because the moment I say that Kris will prove me wrong. Never say never. He might wake up a month from now and go ‘I’m gonna go in the studio and make an album,’ and he will.”
Kristofferson’s final gig took place on the Outlaw Country Cruise in January 2020. The singer was booked to perform one more show in March at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion event in Texas, but COVID-19 scuppered the so-called “anti-festival.”
Kristofferson began his career as a songwriter in the late ’60s, gaining acclaim as the likes of Johnny Cash, Ray Price and Waylon Jennings found success with his compositions. But he broke through as a performer and recording artist in his own right with his 1971 album The Silver Tongued Devil and I. His last record of all-new material was 2013’s Feeling Mortal.
Over his career, Kristofferson won three Grammy Awards for his songwriting before receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. The Country Music Association also awarded Kristofferson their Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
According to Saviano, this year the Kristofferson camp is planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Silver Tongued Devil and I. Revisit the album below: