Iconic country music singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson will release a brand new collection of live music from a historic evening over 40 years ago. Kris Kristofferson Live at Gilley’s – Pasadena, TX: September 15th, 1981, will include 15 previously unreleased recordings from the final night of his 1981 tour. And if that wasn’t enough, that final show took place inside one of the most famous country-western venues in the history of the genre.
To the uninitiated, Gilley’s was a roadhouse bar and music venue owned by Mickey Gilley and made famous by the 1980 film Urban Cowboy. At the time, it was a landmark of country music — a small-town staple for performers to enjoy before the days of the stadium mega tour.
On the album, classic country fans will hear Kristofferson roll through classics like “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” and “For The Good Times,” with accompaniment from his all-star band. At the time, the band was comprised of Stephen Bruton, Billy Swan, Donnie Fritts, Tommy McClure, Glen Clark, and Sammy Creason, Taste of Country reports.
Kristofferson, who turned 86 this week, also performed “Me and Bobby McGee” that night, a song which had become iconic in the previous decade. Roger Miller first released it as a single, and Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton, and Charley Pride all took cracks at it, too. But it was rock and roll savant Janis Joplin who made it a hit in 1970 just days before her own death.
Kris Kristofferson was in his prime in 1981, according to another country music legend
Of course, when Kristofferson performed the song in 1981 in a more country key, the room went wild. The recording captures the energy in the room at the time, which was palpable. Kristofferson makes it known that although other artists lay claim to his iconic songwriting, he can still deliver the goods, himself, when needed.
“Me and Bobby McGee” is one of 15 songs included in this brand new collection. The album also includes exclusive, in-depth liner notes from Gilley, who just recently passed away on May 7, 2022.
“We booked a lot of shows around that time, including some people I didn’t think would want to play the club,” Gilley shared. “We got some acts that made me think, ‘Are you kidding me?’…Kris Kristofferson was one of those artists that I didn’t think would want to play Gilley’s. He was such a big name and a tremendous talent.”
Country music superstar George Strait also weighed in via written contribution to the album’s notes.
“Kris was in his prime and his vocals were outstanding and very soulful as always,” Strait writes. “I got to play Gilley’s a few times back in those days and this record takes me right back there. You can tell the crowd is loving him and he’s loving them right back. That’s what it’s all about. It was an exciting time to say the least.”