Kris Kristofferson has been successful both as a songwriter and a recording artist throughout his lifetime, and it has been estimated that Kristofferson's songs have been recorded by more than 450 artists.

Kristofferson was inspired to take an interest in music by country legends Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. 

“When I was in the army, I was one of the few people outside of his personal friends who knew about Willie Nelson,” Kristofferson says on his biography page. “I listened to a disc jockey who happened to be a Willie fan. He would play Willie’s songs and talk about him all the time. By the time I got to Nashville, he was a superhero to me. For guys like me, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson were two gods we worshipped. Then Willie and I got to be best friends. I came from a position of idolizing him to finding out he’s the funniest S.O.B. you could be around.”

Today, he turns 85 and to celebrate we're looking back on eight famous songs he penned. 

1. Me and Bobby McGee 

The song was originally played by Roger Miller, however, the Janis Joplin rendition was by far the biggest hit. It was a finalist for Record of the Year in 1972 and reached No. 1 on the charts in the United States. Rolling Stone named it one of the Top 150 greatest songs of all time. Kristofferson also recorded his own version of the song. 

 

 2. Why Me 

This song was the most popular track on Kristofferson's 1972 album Jesus Was a Capricorn. Both the album and the song reached No. 1 on the U.S. Country charts. 

 

3. A Song I'd Like to Sing 

This tune was a popular track off the 1973 duet album Full Moon, which featured Kristofferson and then-wife Rita Coolidge. The song landed on the U.S. Top 40 Charts and the album spent time as the No. 1 country album in the nation. 

 

4. Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do) 

This song came from Kristofferson's second album The Silver Tongued Devil and I. The song peaked at No. 21 on the U.S. Top 100 charts. Both the song and the album were a critical and commercial success for Kristofferson.

 

5. Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends 

In 1971, Ronnie Millsap performed this Kristofferson composition and helped it become a No. 1 hit in the U.S. and Canada. 

 

6. Help Me Make it Through the Night 

Kristofferson wrote and originally released the song on his 1970 album Kristofferson but the version by Sammi Smith gained the most commercial success. It would become Smith's signature song and would later be covered by Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson among others. 

 

7. Sunday Morning Coming Down 

Johnny Cash made this song famous even though it was originally performed by Ray Stevens. Cash's cover won him the award for Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. 

 

 

 

8. For the Good Times 

This song appears on Kristofferson but Ray Price was the one who propelled this song to fame. Price's rendition reached No. 1 on the Billboard country charts in June of 1970. The song earned two honors at the 1970 Academy of Country Music Awards, Song of the Year for Kristofferson as the composer and Single of the Year for Price as the performer.