KRIS KRISTOFFERSON & JERRY LEE LEWIS, The Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Tennessee 1996.

Kris Kristofferson wrote Me and Bobby McGee with Fred Foster. It was originally recorded by Roger Miller in 1969. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the song on his 1971 country album, Would You Take Another Chance on Me? This photograph was taken while Kristofferson and Lewis were performing the song together in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996.

The most famous version of Me and Bobby McGee is by Janis Joplin. In the spring of 1968, Joplin entered the elevator at New York’s infamous Chelsea Hotel. One of the residents of the hotel was in that elevator, his name was Leonard Cohen.

“I said to her, ‘Are you looking for someone?’ She said, ‘Yes, I’m looking for Kris Kristofferson.’” Cohen, who bore as much resemblance to Kristofferson as US Presidential nominee, Richard Milhous Nixon, took a chance anyway. “I said, ‘Little lady, you’re in luck, I am Kris Kristofferson.’ Those were generous times. Even though she knew that I was someone shorter than Kris Kristofferson, she never let on. Great generosity prevailed in those doom decades.”

The elevator stuttered to a halt on the fourth floor and in no time at all they became lovers. “She wasn’t looking for me, she was looking for Kris Kristofferson; I wasn’t looking for her, I was looking for Brigitte Bardot. But we fell into each other’s arms through some process of elimination.”

Their brief encounter was all over by the next morning. Some months later they came across each other again: “The last time I saw her was on 23rd Street,” Cohen remembered. “She said, ‘Hey man, you in town to read poetry for old ladies?’ That was her view of my career.” 

Janis Joplin died on October 4th, 1970, of a heroin overdose. Just a few days before her death, she recorded Kris Kristofferson’s Me and Bobby McGee, which would become her only Number One song.

Leonard Cohen wrote about his night of love with Janis, he called the song Chelsea Hotel #2 and it contained these lyrics:

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
You were talkin’ so brave and so sweet
Givin’ me head on the unmade bed
While the limousines wait in the street.

(See the previous two photographs).