Vintage Kris Kristofferson Live Recording From Gilley’s Unearthed

photo: Scott Newton

Kris Kristofferson may be officially retired, and Mickey Gilley may have passed away on May 7th, but these two legends are not done contributing to the country music canon just yet. Recently unearthed, and being readied for official release on September 2nd, Kris Kristofferson’s 15-song live set at Gilley’s in Pasadena, TX from September 15th, 1981 is coming to the public via New West Records.

Capturing Kristofferson at the height of his powers and fame, his live band for the show included absolute legends of their field like guitarist Stephen Bruton who played with Kristofferson for some 40 years, along with Billy Swan, Donnie Fritts, Tommy McClure, Glen Clark, and Sammy Creason. The set includes many of Kris Kristofferson’s signature songs such as “Me And Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again).” It’s basically Kris Kristofferson’s Greatest Hits recorded live, and during his heyday, with the most legendary lineup of his band.

Right before he passed, Mickey Gilley penned the liner notes for the project, and explained how the recording came about, and why it’s not just another live album.

“Right next to the club was the recording studio, and we recorded everything that was done onstage,” Gilley explains. “We could record onto the 24-track machine that we had in the studio, then we would do the mixing…We booked a lot of shows around that time, including some people I didn’t think would want to play the club. 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, because he was such a big name and a tremendous talent.” 

In 1982 during the height of the “Urban Cowboy” movement, Gilley’s was the place to play, and most every artist wanted a piece of the action, even if it was not exactly their setting. With the quality of these recordings, some of them were broadcast live via Westwood One, and some were turned into live albums. Randy Travis recently had a Gilley’s live show from early in his career unexpectedly released. Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Bobby Bare, Leon Russell, and others also have live recordings from Gilley’s floating out there, but unfortunately, many other legendary recordings have gone unreleased so far.

Ahead of the album, the live version of “Me And Bobby McGee” has been released (listen below). Live at Gilley’s – Pasadena, TX: September 15, 1981 will be available on all digital platforms, CD, vinyl, and limited-edition colored vinyl copies. The album is now available for pre-order.


1. Me And Bobby McGee
2. Here Comes That Rainbow Again
3. Casey’s Last Ride
4. You Show Me Yours (And I’ll Show You Mine) / Stranger
5. Nobody Loves Anybody Anymore
6. Darby’s Castle
7. If It’s All The Same To You
8. The Pilgrim
9. For The Good Times
10. Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down
11. The Silver Tongued Devil And I
12. Smile At Me Again
13. Same Old Song
14. Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)
15. Why Me

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