Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12,
1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American
singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, activist, and humanitarian,
whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer. After
traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his
Denver began his music career with folk music groups
during the late 1960s. Starting in the 1970s, he was one of the
most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its
best-selling artists. By 1974, he was firmly established as one of
America's best-selling performers, and
AllMusic has described Denver
as "among the most beloved entertainers of his era".
Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of
which he composed, with total sales of over 33 million records
worldwide. He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic
guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life,
his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver's music
appeared on a variety of charts, including country music, the
Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning him twelve
gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home,
Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", "Thank God I'm
a Country Boy", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".
Denver appeared in several films and television specials during the
1970s and 1980s. He continued to record in the 1990s, also focusing on
environmental issues by lending vocal support to space exploration and
testifying in front of Congress in protest against censorship in
music. He lived in Aspen, Colorado, for much of his life and was known
for his love of Colorado, which he sang about numerous times. In 1974
Denver was named poet laureate of the state. The
legislature also adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its two state
songs in 2007.
Denver, who was an avid pilot, died at the age of 53 flying his
Rutan Long-EZ canard aircraft in a single-fatality crash.
1.1 Early years
1.2 Career peak
1.3 Political activism
1.4 Later years and humanitarian work
1.5 Personal life
2 Posthumous recognition
3 Related artists
4 Awards and recognition
4.1 Other recognition
7 Selected writings
10 External links
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born in Roswell, New Mexico, to
Captain Henry John Deutschendorf Sr., USAAF a United States Army
Air Forces pilot then stationed at Roswell AAF, and his wife, Erma
Louise (Swope). Years later, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air
Force, Deutschendorf would set three speed records in the B-58 Hustler
bomber and earn a place in the Air Force Hall of Fame. Henry Sr.,
Mennonite ancestry, met and married his "Oklahoma
Sweetheart". Denver's Irish Catholic and German maternal
grandmother was the one who imbued
Denver with his love of music. In
his autobiography, Take Me Home,
Denver described his life as the
eldest son of a family shaped by a stern father who could not show his
love for his children. He is also the nephew of singer Dave
Deutschendorf of The New Christy Minstrels.
Because Denver's father was in the military and his family moved
often, it was difficult for him to make friends and fit in with other
children of his own age. Constantly being the new kid was troubling
for the introverted Denver, and he grew up always feeling as though he
should be somewhere else, but never knowing where that "right" place
was. While the family was stationed at
Davis-Monthan AFB in
Denver was a member of the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus
for two years.
Denver was happy living in Tucson, but his father was
then transferred to
Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama, then in the
midst of the Montgomery boycotts. The family later moved to Carswell
AFB in Fort Worth, Texas, where
Denver graduated from Arlington
Heights High School. Fort Worth was a distressing experience for
Denver and in his third year of high school, he drove his father's car
California to visit family friends and begin his music career but
his father flew to
California in a friend's jet and
returned to complete his schooling.
At the age of 11,
Denver received an acoustic guitar from his
grandmother. He learned to play well enough to perform at local
clubs by the time he was in college. He adopted the surname "Denver"
after the capital of his favorite state, Colorado. He decided to
change his name when Randy Sparks, founder of The New Christy
Minstrels, suggested that "Deutschendorf" wouldn't fit comfortably on
Denver studied Architecture at
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University in
Lubbock, and sang in a folk-music group called "The Alpine Trio" while
pursuing architectural studies. He was also a member of
Delta Tau Delta
Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
Denver dropped out of the
School of Engineering in 1963, and moved to Los Angeles, where he
sang in folk clubs. In 1965,
Denver joined The Mitchell Trio,
replacing founder Chad Mitchell, which later became "Denver, Boise,
and Johnson" (John Denver, David Boise, and Michael Johnson).
Denver abandoned the band life to pursue a solo career and
released his first album for RCA Records: Rhymes & Reasons. Two
Denver had made a self-produced demo recording of some of
the songs he played at his concerts. He included in the demo a song he
had written called "Babe I Hate to Go", later renamed "Leaving on a
Denver made several copies and gave them out as presents
for Christmas. Producer Milt Okun, who produced records for the
Mitchell Trio and the high-profile folk group Peter, Paul and Mary,
had become Denver's producer as well. Okun brought the unreleased "Jet
Plane" song to Peter, Paul and Mary. Their version of the song hit
number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (Ironically, this was the
only single to hit number one for the group.) Denver's composition
also made it to the U.K. No. 2 spot in February 1970, having also
made No. 1 on the U.S. Cash Box chart in December 1969.
Although RCA did not actively promote Rhymes & Reasons with a
Denver himself embarked on an impromptu supporting tour
throughout the Midwest, stopping at towns and cities as the fashion
took him, offering to play free concerts at local venues. When he was
successful in persuading a school, college, American Legion hall, or
local coffee-house to let him play, he would spend a day or so
distributing posters in the town and could usually be counted upon to
show up at the local radio station, guitar in hand, offering himself
for an interview. With his foot in the door as author
of "Leaving on a Jet Plane", he was often successful in gaining some
valuable promotional airtime, usually featuring one or two songs
performed live. Some venues would let him play for the "door"; others
restricted him to selling copies of the album at intermission and
after the show. After several months of this constant low-key touring
schedule, however, he had sold enough albums to persuade RCA to take a
chance on extending his recording contract. He had also built a
sizable and solid fan base, many of whom remained loyal throughout his
Denver recorded two more albums in 1970,
Take Me to Tomorrow
Take Me to Tomorrow and Whose
Garden Was This, including a mix of songs he had written and cover
versions of other artists' compositions.
His next album,
Poems, Prayers, and Promises
Poems, Prayers, and Promises (released in 1971), was a
breakthrough for him in the U.S., thanks in part to the single "Take
Me Home, Country Roads", which went to number 2 on the Billboard
charts despite the first pressings of the track being distorted. Its
success was due in part to the efforts of his new manager, future
Hollywood producer Jerry Weintraub, who signed
Denver in 1970.
Weintraub insisted on a re-issue of the track and began a
radio-airplay campaign that started in Denver, Colorado. Denver's
career flourished from then on, and he had a series of hits over the
next four years. In 1972,
Denver scored his first Top Ten album with
Rocky Mountain High, with its title track reaching the Top Ten in
1973. Between 1974 and 1975,
Denver experienced an impressive
chart dominance, with a string of four No. 1 songs ("Sunshine on
My Shoulders", "Annie's Song", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", and "I'm
Sorry") and three No. 1 albums (John Denver's Greatest Hits, Back
Home Again, and Windsong).
In the 1970s, Denver's onstage appearance included long blond hair and
"granny" glasses. His embroidered shirts emblazoned with images
commonly associated with the American West were created by the
designer & appliqué artist Anna Zapp. His manager, Jerry
Weintraub, insisted on a significant number of television appearances,
including a series of half-hour shows in the United Kingdom, despite
Denver's protests at the time, "I've had no success in Britain... I
mean none." Weintraub explained to Maureen Orth of
December 1976, "I knew the critics would never go for John. I had to
get him to the people."
After appearing as a guest on many shows,
Denver went on to host his
own variety/music specials, including several concerts from Red Rocks
Amphitheatre near Denver. His seasonal special, Rocky Mountain
Christmas, was watched by more than 60 million people and was the
highest-rated show for the ABC network at that time.
Denver's live concert television special An Evening With John Denver
His live concert special, An Evening with John Denver, won the
1974–1975 Emmy for Outstanding Special, Comedy-Variety or Music.
Denver ended his business relationship[when?] because of
Weintraub's focus on other projects, Weintraub threw
Denver out of his
office and accused him of Nazism.
Denver would later tell Arthur
Tobier, when the latter transcribed his autobiography,[citation
needed] "I'd bend my principles to support something he wanted of me.
And of course, every time you bend your principles – whether because
you don't want to worry about it, or because you're afraid to stand up
for fear of what you might lose – you sell your soul to the
Denver was also a guest star on The Muppet Show, the beginning of the
lifelong friendship between
Jim Henson that spawned two
television specials with The Muppets. He also tried acting, appearing
Colorado Cattle Caper episode of the McCloud television movie
on February 24, 1974, and starring in the 1977 film
Oh, God! opposite
Denver hosted the
Grammy Awards five times in the 1970s
and 1980s, and guest-hosted The Tonight Show on multiple
occasions. In 1975,
Denver was awarded the Country Music
Association's Entertainer of the Year award. At the ceremony, the
outgoing Entertainer of the Year, Charlie Rich, presented the award to
his successor, but in protest of what he considered the
inappropriateness of Denver's selection, Rich set fire to the envelope
containing the official notification of the award. However,
Denver's music was defended by country singer Kathy Mattea, who told
Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly, "A lot of people write him off as
lightweight, but he articulated a kind of optimism, and he brought
acoustic music to the forefront, bridging folk, pop, and country in a
fresh way... People forget how huge he was worldwide."
The Hunger Project
The Hunger Project with
Werner Erhard and
Robert W. Fuller. He served for many years and supported the
organization until his death.
Denver was also appointed by President
Jimmy Carter to serve on the President's Commission on World Hunger,
writing the song "I Want to Live" as its theme song. In 1979, Denver
performed "Rhymes & Reasons" at the Music for
Royalties from the concert performances were donated to UNICEF.
His father taught him to fly in the mid-1970s, which led to a
reconciliation between father and son. In 1980,
Denver and his
father, Lt. Col. "Dutch" Deutschendorf, co-hosted an award-winning
television special, "The Higher We Fly: the History of Flight". It
won the Osborn Award from the Aviation/Space Writers’ Association,
and was honored by the Houston Film Festival.
Denver became outspoken in politics in the mid-1970s. He expressed his
ecologic interests in the epic 1975 song "Calypso," which is an ode to
the exploration ship and team of environmental activist Jacques
Cousteau. In 1976, he campaigned for Jimmy Carter, who became a close
friend and ally.
Denver was a supporter of the Democratic Party and of
a number of charitable causes for the environmental movement, the
homeless, the poor, the hungry, and the African AIDS crisis. He
founded the charitable
Windstar Foundation in 1976, to promote
sustainable living. His dismay at the
Chernobyl disaster led to
precedent-setting concerts in parts of communist Asia and Europe.
During the 1980s,
Denver was critical of the Reagan administration,
but he remained active in his campaign against hunger, for which
Denver the Presidential World Without
Hunger Award in
1985. Denver's criticism of the conservative politics of the 1980s
was expressed in his autobiographical folk-rock ballad "Let Us Begin
(What Are We Making Weapons For)."
Denver was also critical of the
Republican-dominated Congress and American Conservatism of the
1990s. He denounced the National Rifle Association
(NRA) as a corrupt political machine that could buy off
politicians, and in an open letter to the media, he
wrote that he opposed oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Denver had battled to expand the refuge in the 1980s, and he
Bill Clinton for his opposition to the proposed
drilling. The letter, which he wrote in the midst of the 1996
presidential election, was one of the last he ever wrote. Denver
was also on the Board of Governors of the
National Space Society
National Space Society for
Later years and humanitarian work
Denver had a few more U.S. Top 30 hits as the 1970s ended, but nothing
to match his earlier success. He began to focus more on humanitarian
and sustainability causes, focusing extensively on conservation
projects. He made public expression of his acquaintances and
friendships with ecological design researchers such as Richard
Buckminster Fuller (about whom he wrote and composed "What One Man Can
Do") and Amory Lovins, from whom he said he learned much. He also
founded two environmental groups; the
Windstar Foundation and Plant-It
2020 (originally Plant-It 2000).
Denver had a keen interest in
solutions to world hunger. He visited Africa during the 1980s to
witness first-hand the suffering caused by starvation and to work with
African leaders toward solutions.
In 1983 and 1984,
Denver hosted the annual
Grammy Awards. In the 1983
Denver was joined on stage by folk music legend
Joan Baez with
whom he led an all-star version of "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Let The
Sunshine In," joined by such diverse musical icons as Jennifer Warnes,
Donna Summer, and Rick James.
In 1984, Roone Arledge, president of ABC Sports, asked
compose and sing the theme song for the
1984 Winter Olympics
1984 Winter Olympics in
Denver worked as both a performer and a skiing commentator.
(Skiing was another avocation of Denver's.) He had written and
composed "The Gold and Beyond," and he sang it for the Olympic Games
athletes, as well as local venues including many schools.
Denver asked to participate in the singing of "We Are the
World," but he was turned down. According to
Ken Kragen (who helped to
produce the song), the reason
Denver was turned down was that many
people felt his image would hurt the credibility of the song as a
pop-rock anthem. "I didn't agree" with this assessment, Kragen said,
but reluctantly turned
Denver down anyway.
For Earth Day 1990,
Denver was the on-camera narrator of a
well-received environmental TV program, In Partnership With Earth,
with then–EPA Administrator William K. Reilly.
Due to his love of flying, he was attracted to
NASA and became
dedicated to America's work in outer space. He conscientiously worked
to help bring into being the "Citizens in Space" program. Denver
NASA Public Service Medal, in 1985 for "helping to
increase awareness of space exploration by the peoples of the world,"
an award usually restricted to spaceflight engineers and designers.
Also, in 1985,
Denver passed NASA's rigorous physical exam and was in
line for a space flight, a finalist for the first citizen's trip on
the Space Shuttle in 1986, but he was not chosen. After the Space
Shuttle Challenger disaster with teacher
Christa McAuliffe aboard,
Denver dedicated his song "Flying for Me" to all astronauts, and he
continued to support NASA.
Denver testified before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on the
topic of censorship during a
Parents Music Resource Center
Parents Music Resource Center hearing in
Denver also toured Russia in 1985. His 11
Soviet Union concerts
were the first by any American artist in more than 10 years, and they
marked a very important cultural exchange that culminated in an
agreement to allow other western artists to perform there. He
returned two years later to perform at a benefit concert for the
victims of the Chernobyl disaster.
In October 1992,
Denver undertook a multiple-city tour of the People's
Republic of China. He also released a greatest-hits CD, Homegrown, to
raise money for homeless charities. In 1994, he published his
autobiography, Take Me Home, in which he candidly spoke of his
cannabis, LSD, and cocaine use, his marital infidelities, and his
history of domestic violence. In 1996, he was inducted into
the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In early 1997,
Denver filmed an episode for the Nature series,
centering on the natural wonders that inspired many of his best-loved
songs. His last song, "Yellowstone, Coming Home," which he composed
while rafting along the
Colorado River with his son and young
daughter, is included. In the summer of 1997, shortly before his
Denver recorded a children's train album for Sony Wonder,
titled All Aboard! This was produced by long-time friend Roger
Nichols. The album consisted of old-fashioned swing, big band,
folk, bluegrass, and gospel styles of music woven into a theme of
railroad songs. This album won a posthumous Best Musical Album For
Grammy for Denver, which was his only Grammy.
Denver's first marriage was to Anne Martell of St. Peter, Minnesota.
She was the subject of his hit "Annie's Song," which he composed in
only ten minutes as he sat on a
Colorado ski lift after the couple had
an argument. They lived in Edina, Minnesota, from 1968 to 1971.
Following the success of "Rocky Mountain High," inspired by a camping
trip with Anne and some friends,
Denver purchased a residence in
Aspen, Colorado. He lived in Aspen continuously until his death.
The Denvers adopted a boy, Zachary John, and girl, Anna Kate, who
Denver would say were "meant to be" theirs.
Denver once said,
"I'll tell you the best thing about me. I'm some guy's dad; I'm some
little gal's dad. When I die, Zachary John and Anna Kate's father,
boy, that's enough for me to be remembered by. That's more than
enough."  Zachary, who is African-American, was the subject of "A
Baby Just Like You," a song that included the line "Merry Christmas,
little Zachary" and which he wrote for Frank Sinatra.
Martell divorced in 1982. In a 1983 interview shown in the documentary
John Denver: Country Boy (2013),
Denver said that career demands drove
them apart; Anne said that they were too young and immature to deal
with John's sudden mega-success. The ensuing property settlement
Denver to become so enraged, he nearly choked Martell, then
used a chainsaw to cut their marital bed in half.
Denver married Australian actress Cassandra Delaney in 1988, after
a two-year courtship. Settling at Denver's home in Aspen, the couple
had a daughter, Jesse Belle.
Denver and Delaney separated in 1991 and
divorced in 1993. Of his second marriage,
Denver would later
recall that "before our short-lived marriage ended in divorce, she
managed to make a fool of me from one end of the valley to the
Denver pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge, and was
placed on probation. In August 1994, while still on probation, he
was again charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence after
crashing his Porsche into a tree in Aspen. Though a jury trial in
July 1997 resulted in a hung jury on the second DUI charge,
prosecutors later decided to reopen the case, which was closed only
after Denver's accidental death in October 1997. In 1996, the
FAA decided that
Denver could no longer fly a plane, due to medical
disqualification for failure to abstain from alcohol, a condition that
the FAA had imposed in October 1995 after his prior drunk-driving
Denver's talent extended beyond music. Artistic interests included
painting, but because of his limiting schedule he pursued photography,
saying once "photography is a way to communicate a feeling". Denver
was also an avid skier and golfer, but his principal interest was in
flying. His love of flying was second only to his love of music.
In 1974, he bought a
Learjet to fly himself to concerts. He was a
collector of vintage biplanes, and owned a Christen Eagle aerobatic
Cessna 210 airplanes, and in 1997, an experimental,
amateur-built Rutan Long-EZ.
A Long-EZ two-seater canard plane
Denver was killed on October 12, 1997 when his experimental Rutan
Long-EZ plane, aircraft registration number N555JD, crashed into
Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California, while making a series of
touch-and-go landings at the nearby Monterey Peninsula Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) accident ID is
Denver was the only occupant of the aircraft.
Identification was not possible using dental records; only his
fingerprints confirmed that the pilot was Denver.
A pilot with over 2,700 hours of experience,
Denver had pilot ratings
for single-engine land and sea, multi-engine land, glider, and
instrument. He also held a type rating in his Learjet. He had recently
purchased the Long-EZ aircraft, made by someone else from a kit,
and had taken a half-hour checkout flight with the aircraft the day
before the accident.
Denver was not legally permitted to fly at the time of the accident.
In previous years,
Denver had a number of drunk driving arrests.
In 1996, nearly a year before the accident, the Federal Aviation
Administration learned that
Denver had failed to maintain sobriety by
failing to refrain entirely from alcohol, and was compelled to revoke
his medical certification. However, the accident was not
influenced by alcohol use, as an autopsy found no sign of alcohol or
other drugs in Denver's body.
Post-accident investigation by the NTSB showed that the leading cause
of the accident was Denver's inability to switch fuel tanks during
flight. The quantity of fuel had been depleted during the plane's
transfer to Monterey and in several brief practice takeoffs and
Denver performed at the airport immediately prior to the
final flight. His newly purchased experimental Rutan had an unusual
fuel selector valve handle configuration. Intended by the plane's
designer to be located between the pilot's legs, the builder instead
had placed the fuel selector behind the pilot's left shoulder, with
the fuel gauge also behind the pilot's seat and not visible to the
person at the controls. An NTSB interview with the aircraft
mechanic servicing Denver's plane revealed that he and
discussed the inaccessibility of the cockpit fuel selector valve
handle and its resistance to being turned.
Before the flight,
Denver and the mechanic had attempted to extend the
reach of the handle, using a pair of Vise-Grip pliers. However, this
did not solve the problem, and the pilot still could not reach the
handle while strapped into his seat. NTSB investigators' post-accident
investigation showed that because of the positioning of the fuel
selector valves, switching fuel tanks required the pilot to turn his
body 90 degrees to reach the valve. This created a natural tendency to
extend one's right foot against the right rudder pedal to support
oneself while turning in the seat, which caused the aircraft to yaw
(Nose right) and pitch up.
The mechanic said he had remarked to
Denver that the fuel sight gauges
were visible only to the rear cockpit occupant.
Denver had asked how
much fuel was shown. He told
Denver there was "less than half in the
right tank and less than a quarter in the left tank". He then provided
Denver with an inspection mirror so he could look over his shoulder at
the fuel gauges. The mirror was later recovered in the wreckage.
Denver said he would use the autopilot inflight to hold the airplane
level while he turned the fuel selector valve. He turned down an offer
to refuel, saying he would be flying for about an hour.
The NTSB interviewed 20 witnesses of Denver's last flight. Six of them
had seen the plane crash into the ocean near Point Pinos. Four
witnesses stated the aircraft was originally heading west. Five said
they saw the plane in a steep bank, with four of these saying the bank
was to the right (north). Twelve witnesses described seeing the
aircraft in a steep nose-down descent. Witnesses estimated the plane's
altitude to be between 350 and 500 feet (110 and 150 m) when
heading toward the shoreline. Eight said that they heard a "pop" or
"backfire", accompanied by a reduction in the engine noise level just
before the airplane crashed into the sea.
In addition to Denver's failing to refuel and his subsequent loss of
control, while attempting to switch fuel tanks, the NTSB determined
there were other key factors that led to the accident. Foremost among
these was Denver's inadequate transition training on this type of
aircraft, and the builder's decision to locate the fuel selector
handle in a difficult-to-reach location. The board issued
recommendations on the requirement and enforcement of mandatory
training standards for pilots operating experimental aircraft. It also
emphasized the importance of mandatory ease of access to all controls,
including fuel selectors and fuel gauges, in all aircraft.
The plaque marking the location of Denver's plane crash in Pacific
Upon announcement of Denver's death,
Colorado governor Roy Romer
ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff in his honor.
Funeral services were held at Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora,
Colorado, on October 17, 1997, officiated by Pastor Les Felker, a
retired Air Force chaplain, following which Denver's remains were
cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Rocky Mountains. Further
tributes were made at the following Grammys and Country Music
In 2000, CBS presented the television movie Take Me Home: The John
Denver Story loosely based on his memoirs, starring Chad Lowe. The New
York Post observed, "An overachiever like John
Denver couldn't have
been this boring."
On September 23, 2007, nearly ten years after Denver's death, his
brother Ron witnessed the dedication of a plaque placed near the crash
site in Pacific Grove, California, commemorating the singer.
Denver's music remains popular around the world. Previously unreleased
and unnoticed recordings are now sought-after collectibles in pop,
folk and country genres. Also in demand are copies of
Denver's many television appearances, especially his one-hour specials
from the 1970s and his six-part series for Britain's BBC, The John
Denver Show. Despite strong interest in these programs, no sign of
"official" release is evident for the vast majority of this
material. An anthology musical featuring Denver's
music, Back Home Again: A John
Denver Holiday, premiered at the
Rubicon Theatre Company in November 2006.
On March 12, 2007, the
Colorado Senate passed a resolution to make
Denver's trademark 1972 hit "Rocky Mountain High" one of the state's
two official state songs, sharing duties with its predecessor, "Where
the Columbines Grow". The resolution passed 50–11 in the House,
defeating an objection by Rep.
Debbie Stafford (R-Aurora) that the
song reflected drug use, most specifically the line, "friends around
the campfire and everybody's high". Sen. Bob Hagedorn, the Aurora
Democrat who sponsored the proposal, defended the song as nothing to
do with drugs, but everything to do with sharing with friends the
euphoria of experiencing the beauty of Colorado's mountain vistas.
Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) said that "John
Denver to me is an icon of what
Denver Memorial stone with the lyrics to "Rocky Mountain High" in
Rio Grande Park, Aspen, Colorado
On September 24, 2007, the
California Friends of John
Denver and The
Windstar Foundation unveiled a bronze plaque near the spot where his
plane went down near Pacific Grove. The site had been marked by a
driftwood log carved (by Jeffrey Pine of Colorado) with the singer's
name, but fears that the memorial could be washed out to sea sparked
the campaign for a more permanent memorial. Initially, the Pacific
Grove Council denied permission for the memorial, fearing the place
would attract ghoulish curiosity from extreme fans. Permission was
finally granted in 1999, but the project was put on hold at the
request of the singer's family. Eventually, over 100 friends and
family attended the dedication of the plaque, which features a
bas-relief of the singer's face and lines from his song "Windsong":
"So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers. Follow her summons
when she calls again."
To mark the 10th anniversary of Denver's death, his family released a
set of previously unreleased recordings of Denver's 1985 concert
performances in the Soviet Union. This two-CD set, John
Live in the USSR, was produced by Denver's friend Roger Nichols, and
released by AAO Music. These digital recordings were made during 11
concerts and then rediscovered in 2002. Included in this set is a
previously unpublished rendition of "Annie's Song" in Russian. The
collection was released November 6, 2007.
On October 13, 2009, a DVD box set of previously unreleased concerts
recorded throughout Denver's career was released by Eagle Rock
Entertainment. Around the World Live is a 5-disc DVD set featuring
three complete live performances with full band from Australia in
1977, Japan in 1981, and England in 1986. These are complemented by a
solo acoustic performance from Japan in 1984, and performances at Farm
Aid from 1985, 1987, and 1990. The final disc has two-hour-long
documentaries made by Denver.
On April 21, 2011,
Denver became the first inductee into the Colorado
Music Hall of Fame. A benefit concert was held at Broomfield's 1stBank
Center and hosted by Olivia Newton-John. Other performers
participating in the event included Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Lee Ann
Womack, and John Oates. Both of his ex-wives were in attendance, and
the award was presented to his three children.
Denver "Spirit" statue is a 2002 bronze sculpture statue by
Sue DiCicco that was financed by Denver's fans. It is located
Colorado Music Hall of Fame at Red Rocks.
On March 7, 2014, the West Virginia Legislature approved a resolution
to make "Take Me Home, Country Roads" the official state song of West
Virginia. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resolution into law on
Denver thus shares the distinction with the father of
Stephen Foster as the composer of two state songs.
On October 24, 2014,
Denver was awarded a star on the
of Fame in Hollywood, California, which was accepted by his children
Zachary and Jesse. His star is located at 7065 Hollywood
Main article: The John
Denver began his recording career with a group that had started as the
Chad Mitchell Trio; his distinctive voice can be heard where he sings
solo on Violets of Dawn, among other songs. He recorded three albums
with the Mitchell Trio, replacing Chad Mitchell himself as high
tenor. The group Denver, Boise, and Johnson, which had evolved
from the Mitchell Trio, released a single before he moved on to a solo
Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, credited as co-writers of Denver's song
"Take Me Home, Country Roads", were close friends of
Denver and his
family, appearing as singers and songwriters on many of Denver's
albums until they formed the
Starland Vocal Band
Starland Vocal Band in 1976. The band's
albums were released on Denver's
Windsong Records (later known as
Windstar Records) label. Denver's solo recording contract resulted in
part from the recording by Peter, Paul, and Mary of his song "Leaving
on a Jet Plane", which became the sole number-1 hit single for the
Denver recorded songs by Tom Paxton, Eric Andersen, John
Prine, David Mallett, and many others in the folk scene. His record
company, Windstar, is still an active record label today.[citation
needed] Country singer John Berry considers
Denver the greatest
influence on his own music and has recorded Denver's hit "Annie's
Song" with the original arrangement.
Olivia Newton-John, an Australian singer whose across-the-board appeal
to pop, MOR, and country audiences in the mid-1970s was similar to
Denver's, lent her distinctive backup vocals to Denver's 1975 single
"Fly Away"; she performed the song with
Denver on his 1975 Rocky
Mountain Christmas special. She also covered his "Take Me Home,
Country Roads", and had a hit in the
United Kingdom (#15 in 1973) and
Japan (#6 in a belated 1976 release) with it. In
Denver appeared as a guest star, along with Olivia Newton-John,
who made a cameo appearance, on
The Carpenters Very First Special, a
one-hour TV special broadcast on the ABC television network. A
highlight of the program was John singing a duet with Karen Carpenter
of a medley of "Comin' Thro' the Rye" and "Good Vibrations", although
the medley was never released commercially as a single or on an
Awards and recognition
Academy of Country Music
1974 Album of the Year for Back Home Again
American Music Awards
1975 Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist
1976 Favorite Country Album for Back Home Again
1976 Favorite Country Male Artist
Country Music Association
1975 Entertainer of the Year
1975 Song of the Year for "Back Home Again"
1975 Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy
Special for An
Evening With John Denver
1997 Best Musical Album For Children for All Aboard!
Grammy Hall of Fame Award for "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1996
Poet Laureate of Colorado, 1977
People's Choice Awards, 1977
Ten Outstanding Young Men of America, 1979
Carl Sandburg's People's Poet Award, 1982
NASA Public Service Medal, 1985
Albert Schweitzer Music Award, 1993
Freedoms Foundation Award, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1980
Main article: John
Denver Sings (1966)
Rhymes & Reasons (1969)
Take Me to Tomorrow
Take Me to Tomorrow (1970)
Whose Garden Was This
Whose Garden Was This (1970)
Poems, Prayers & Promises (1971)
Rocky Mountain High
Rocky Mountain High (1972)
Farewell Andromeda (1973)
Back Home Again (1974)
Rocky Mountain Christmas
Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975)
I Want to Live (1977)
Some Days Are Diamonds (1981)
Seasons of the Heart (1982)
It's About Time (1983)
Dreamland Express (1985)
One World (1986)
Higher Ground (1988)
Earth Songs (1990)
The Flower That Shattered the Stone
The Flower That Shattered the Stone (1990)
Different Directions (1991)
All Aboard! (1997)
Main article: John
The Children and The Flowers (1979) ISBN 0-914676-28-8
Alfie the Christmas Tree (1990) ISBN 0-945051-25-5
Take Me Home: An Autobiography (1994) ISBN 0-517-59537-0
Poems, Prayers and Promises: The Art and Soul of John
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Denver Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 June
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Rocky Mountain High
Rocky Mountain High Concert". The
Florida Theatre. 2013-11-19. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
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Reitwiesner". Wargs.Com. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
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^ Plett, Rowena. "John
Mennonite Ancestors." Hillsboro
Star-Journal. 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k  Archived June 28, 2006, at the Wayback
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original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
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Retrieved August 17, 2010.
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Denver Biography – life, family, children,
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August 17, 2010.
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Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
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1997. Archived from the original on February 21, 2001. Retrieved May
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^ "Private Tutor". Infoplease.com. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
^ Take Me Home: An Autobiography, John
Denver and Arthur Tobier,
Harmony Books, 1994.
^ "John Denver: Biography from". Answers.com. Retrieved May 9,
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May 9, 2011.
^ thepiperchile. "ABBA on TV – Music for
UNICEF – A Gift of Song
Concert". Abbaontv.com. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
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^ a b "''
Windstar Foundation announcement''". Wstar.Com. September 11,
2007. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
^ a b Slice Of Life:
Denver Tells Of Chainsaws, Choke Holds, The
Orlando Sentinel, November 6, 1994, retrieved February 16, 2012
^ a b c Denver, John, Take Me Home: An Autobiography, Crown Archetype
Press, ISBN 0-517-59537-0, ISBN 978-0-517-59537-4 (1994)
^ "PBS Nature Website, "John
Denver – Let this be a voice"".
Pbs.org. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
^ "Roger Nichols". The Daily Telegraph. London. June 16, 2011.
^ "John Denver". Rock on the Net. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
^ "John Denver". Midtod.com. 1997-10-05. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
^ Martin, Frank W. "John Denver's Unsung Story", People, February 26,
^ a b c d Story, Rob, "Dropping In: John Denver's Moral Victory", Ski
Magazine, retrieved February 16, 2012
Cassandra Delaney Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved
^ Castro, Peter, "Peaks & Valleys", People, October 27, 1997, Vol.
49 No. 17, retrieved February 16, 2012
^ a b c d e f g h "Close-up: The John
Denver Crash" Archived February
11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., AVWeb, retrieved February 16, 2012
^ a b c d e f g h i National Transportation Safety Board, "NTSB Public
Meeting of January 26, 1999: Aircraft Accident involving John Denver
in Flight Collision with Terrain/Water October 12, 1997, Pacific Ocean
near Pacific Grove, CA, LAX-98-FA008", Washington, D.C., January 26,
^ a b Castro, Peter. "Peaks & Valleys", People, October 27, 1997.
^ a b "Closeup: The John
Denver Crash". Avweb.com. Archived from the
original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
National Transportation Safety Board
National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final
Report, Accident no. LAX98FA008". NTSB.gov. October 12, 1997.
Retrieved March 27, 2017.
^ Kligman, David. "John
Denver Dies In Crash", Chicago Sun Times,
October 13, 1997. reprinted at highbeam.com
^ "Archive : Vault : Death Certificates: John Denver".
Rockmine. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
^ Press, From Associated (June 23, 1998). "John
Denver Plane Crash
Inquiry Ends" – via LA Times.
^ "Denver's Long-EZ". Check-six.com. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
National Transportation Safety Board
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). "Press release".
Retrieved December 7, 2009.
^ Coile, Zachary; Gurnon, Emily; Hatfield, Larry D. (October 13,
Denver dies in crash". SFGate. Retrieved 26 September
^ National Transportation Safety Board. Long-EZ, N555JD, Flight
History and Accident Report, ID= LAX98FA008, October 12, 1997.[dead
^ Buckman, Adam. "Home Movie Disses Denver", New York Post, April 29,
Denver and Friends
Rocky Mountain High
Rocky Mountain High WWW Page".
Shellworld.net. April 17, 2009. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
Colorado State Song
Rocky Mountain High
Rocky Mountain High composed by John Denver".
Netstate.com. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
Denver Post, March 13, 2007
Denver Sanctuary, Aspen, Colorado". Aspenportrait.com. October
12, 1997. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
Denver Memorial Plaque Pacific Grove". Johndenverclub.org.
Retrieved May 9, 2011.
^  Archived March 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "John Denver, Composer of Two State Songs - In Mozart's Footsteps -
Uncommon Musical Travel". Inmozartsfootsteps.com. 2010-12-24.
^ Baskin, Gregory (16 October 2014). "John
Denver To Get Posthumous
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame [Video]". Guardian Liberty Voice.
Retrieved 18 October 2014.
^ Along with
U.S. Senator Jake Garn, U.S. Ambassador Shirley Temple
Black, actor James Stewart, and Tom Abraham, a businessman from
Canadian, Texas, who worked with immigrants seeking to become U.S.
citizens. Cited in "Tom Abraham to be honored by Freedoms Foundation
Feb. 22", Canadian Record, February 14, 1980, p. 19
Flippo, Chet (1998) "John Denver", The Encyclopedia of Country Music,
Paul Kingsbury, Editor, New York: Oxford University Press.
Martin, James M. (1977) John Denver: Rocky Mountain Wonderboy,
Pinnacle Books. (Out of print) Biography of
Denver with insight into
Denver's impact of the 1970s music industry.
Orth, Maureen, "Voice of America", Newsweek, December 1976. Includes
information on the role of Weintraub in shaping Denver's career, which
has since been edited out of later versions of his biography.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Denver.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Denver
Windstar Foundation, cofounded by Denver
Clips of his songs from the
Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame website
Denver on IMDb
Denver at Find a Grave
Official German Fanclub - bilingual website with bio, info, photos etc
FBI Records: The Vault - John
Denver at vault.fbi.gov]
Rhymes & Reasons
Take Me to Tomorrow
Whose Garden Was This
Poems, Prayers & Promises
Rocky Mountain High
Back Home Again
I Want to Live
Some Days Are Diamonds
Seasons of the Heart
It's About Time
The Flower That Shattered the Stone
An Evening with John Denver
Live in London
Live at the Sydney Opera House
The Wildlife Concert
The Best of John
Christmas in Concert
The Harbor Lights Concert
Live in the U.S.S.R.
Live at Cedar Rapids
Rocky Mountain Christmas
A Christmas Together
Rocky Mountain Holiday
Christmas, Like a Lullaby
John Denver's Greatest Hits
John Denver's Greatest Hits, Volume 2
John Denver's Greatest Hits, Volume 3
The Very Best of John Denver
John Denver: A Portrait
Something to Sing About
16 Biggest Hits
The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
"Rocky Mountain High"
"Sunshine on My Shoulders"
"Back Home Again"
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
"Looking for Space"
"Like a Sad Song"
"Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)"
"The Cowboy and the Lady"
"And So It Goes"
"Leaving on a Jet Plane"
ISNI: 0000 0000 8382 2958
BNF: cb13893177d (data)