Classic CMA Awards Moments, #17: Kris Kristofferson, Song of the Year win (1970)

#17: Kris Kristofferson
Song of the Year win

Mumbling but magnificent in its own unique way, the acceptance speech for Song of the Year in 1970 was an inarticulate message from an exceedingly eloquent man. Kris Kristofferson, the victor for Johnny Cash’s classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down” ran to the stage, brushed back his hair and somehow managed to say his “thank you’s” in a quiet, shy manner that stood in sharp contrast with his forthright, incisive writing style. It seems that Kristofferson had indulged in a little heavy-duty drinking in the hours before one of his career pinnacles.

The following year, Kristofferson would be nominated for Best Country Song at the Grammys—for three different songs. “Sunday Morning Coming Down” was joined by Sammi Smith’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” (the winner) and Ray Price’s “For the Good Times.” He earned Country Music Hall of Fame induction in the 2004, an honor preceded by membership into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985.

Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson, live performance, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”:


  1. I remember watching the telecast and thinking how disgraceful was his conduct. No doubt, as you noted, the result of heavy duty drinking and/or puffing. Magnificent would be the last word I would use to describe his performance that night.

    My opinion remains unchanged, and I’m sure if Kris could re-do the moment, he would handle it differently; in fact, he has commented to that effect

  2. Kristofferson has always seemed shy in the spotlight, at least for someone with a career in entertainment. I’d assume that part of his consumption that night was due to his nerves about the occasion, and I agree, I’m sure he would’ve wanted to acquit himself better. But of course, it was quite a scene and will be remembered.

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