The son of a military officer, who would later run a large U.S. corporation based in Saudi Arabia, Kristofferson grew up in different military bases before settling with his family in Southern California when it came time to attend high school. He graduated both high school and college with honors, and was awarded a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford University in England, where he received a Masters Degree in English literature.
While in England, he renewed an interest in country music and songwriting, but upon his graduation, he joined the military where he became a helicopter pilot and officer. While he was on military leave, he vacationed in Nashville, where he hooked up with a music publisher. After an honorable discharge from the army, he moved his family to Nashville and renewed his relationships there. That led to a publishing deal, and eventually a recording contract with Epic Records, and later, Monument Records, a division of CBS Nashville.