Mel Tillis and I were good friends during my first few years in Nashville. One night in 1965, I went to his home already pretty tanked and rang the doorbell. Just as his wife opened the door, I dropped and shattered a fifth of vodka all over the front porch. (I don’t remember the brand, but it was definitely whatever was cheapest at the time.) I can’t imagine why, but she wouldn’t let Mel go out with me that evening.
I decided I would drive up to Fort Campbell and see my old Army company before they flew off to Vietnam. On the way, I blew a tire and rolled my car and ended up hanging upside down, wheels up and still turning, when a police car arrived.
I was pretty sure I was OK, but I thought it would be funny to give them a scare, so I stayed as still and as quiet as I could as they cautiously approached, and I heard one of them say the driver couldn’t possibly have survived that one. Just as they were peering in and sizing up the situation, I yelled as loud as I could, “Get me out of here!”
They about had heart attacks and were so relieved that they didn’t that they offered me a ride to the Army base. I got there just in time to board the plane to Vietnam and say hello and let everyone know that I might as well go with them, since I had just totaled my car and had nothing left to lose.
Kristofferson plays President Andrew Jackson in “Texas Rising”, the History Channel miniseries detailing the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the Texas Rangers, premiering May 25.
Photos by Jim Marshall Photography LLC