Kris Kristofferson turns 80 years old today (June 22). Dare I say, the living legend is the most complete package of talent the country music-loving world has ever seen. I dare, I dare. Don’t believe me? Check out these eight essentials from the career of the singer, songwriter, musician and actor, and if that’s not enough, just remember this: couple his U.S. Army Ranger skills with his Blue award for boxing from Oxford University (where he was a Rhodes Scholar) and you get a Highway Man capable of giving the entire bro-country nation a beat-down . . . at the same time . . . even at age 80.
1. Trophy Room
Over the course of his career, Kris has earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Golden Globe, an Oscar nomination and multiple Grammys, ACMs and CMA awards.
2. Write & Sing
With signature songs like “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “Me and Bobby McGee,” it’s no surprise Kris is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame (2004) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1985).
3. Star Athlete
Kris was a three-sport athlete—rugby, football, track and field—at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., where he graduated with a degree in literature in 1958.
4. Brain & Brawn Power
Kris earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and graduated with a master’s degree in English literature in 1960. He also earned a Blue award for boxing during his time at Oxford.
5. Military Service
After college, Kris joined the U.S. Army, serving as a helicopter pilot in West Germany and completing Ranger School.
Varying accounts of a story have Kris landing a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s front yard so he could get a copy of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” in Johnny’s hands. Talk about initiative. Imagine if he could have gotten his hands on a tank. The story was parodied in a 2014 episode of Drunk History.
7. Life Is a Highway
In addition to a stellar solo career, Kris joined forces with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to form the superest of super-groups, The Highwaymen, in 1985.
8. Silver Screened Devil
Kris has more than 100 acting credits to his name, including performances in A Star Is Born, Blade and Payback.
main photo courtesy Kate Simon/Saviano Media