Kris Kristofferson quietly announced his retirement on Wednesday via a clause buried in a press release detailing the future management of the songwriter’s estate. “In addition, in the wake of his father’s retirement in 2020,” it read, “Kristofferson’s son John steps in to oversee all of the family’s business.” Kristofferson’s spokesperson confirmed the Country Music Hall of Fame member’s retirement from touring, recording, and acting to Rolling Stone.
While few artists of Kristofferson’s caliber have been publicly working since the pandemic took hold in early 2020, the country music poet had remained busy up until February of last year, touring solo and with members of Merle Haggard’s band the Strangers. Kristofferson gave his last full concert on January 30th aboard the fifth annual Outlaw Country Cruise, a performance attended by Rolling Stone.
Along with ubiquitous classics like “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” the then-83-year-old Kristofferson dug into various eras of his back catalog. He offered a stark reading of “Darby’s Castle” off his 1970 debut LP, took stock of his existence in the title track to 2013’s Feeling Mortal, and played 1971’s self-referential “The Pilgrim Chapter 33” (“He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction“). Kristofferson closed the show, held in the Norwegian Pearl’s at-capacity theater, the Stardust, with “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends.”
Kristofferson was also the focus of an onboard all-star tribute concert from writers he’s influenced, including Lucinda Williams, Shooter Jennings, and Steve Earle, capped by a sing-along to “Why Me” with Kristofferson. (Listen to the show on SiriusXM.)
The news of Kristofferson’s official retirement arrives with the announcement that Morris Higham Management will represent the Kris Kristofferson estate. According to the release, a series of “special projects” will help mark Kristofferson’s 85th birthday this June.