STAGES OF LIFE

Kris Kristofferson is a singer, songwriting legend, Army vet -- and family man who doesn't miss the highway

Movie superstar and sometime singer Russell Crowe stands onstage, guitar in hand. The burly actor praises his duet partner, who left the stage only moments ago.

"That man is a genuine warrior of the road," says Russell in his thick Aussie accent. "Still surviving, still looking good."

At age 67, with chiseled features and stylish gray hair, Kris Kristofferson is indeed still looking good. And as for surviving - that's no problem. After acting in well over 40 films - including the upcoming The Big Bounce - and recording over 25 albums, Kris still burns with creativity.

Kris is in Chicago today to tape a segment for the PBS concert series Soundstage. Though he's done it for decades, singing onstage still makes him a little uneasy. "Songwriting comes just like breathing for me," he says. "But performing does not. It's not as bad as it used to be. Now, I don't have to get inebriated and desensitized!"

You can hear Kris' onstage confidence on Broken Freedom Song: Live From San Francisco, his first album in four years. It documents a 2002 concert that Kris' wife of 20 years, Lisa, encouraged him to release on CD.

But don't expect to see a full-blown tour from Kris anytime soon.

"I don't know whether it's just old age or the bypass that I had three years ago, but my family is more important to me now," laughs Kris, who has eight children and two grandchildren. "My family is definitely the best part of my life. For about 30 years, the road was everything that I wanted, and it was a wonderful life. But it's hard to get me out there now."

-- Bobby Reed

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