Today, we’ll be reminded of the music of John Denver.
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, 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 America’s best-selling performer, and AllMusic has described Denver as “among the most beloved entertainers of his era”. After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. Throughout his life, Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with total sales of over 33 million.
He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver’s music appeared on a variety of charts, including country and western, 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”, and “Sunshine on My Shoulders”.
Denver further starred in films and several notable television specials in the 1970s and 1980s. In the following decade, he continued to record, but also focused on calling attention to environmental issues, lent his vocal support to space exploration, and testified in front of Congress to protest against censorship in music. He was known for his love of the state of Colorado, which he sang about numerous times. He lived in Aspen, Colorado, for much of his life. He was named Poet Laureate of the state in 1974. The Colorado state legislature also adopted “Rocky Mountain High” as one of its state songs in 2007. Denver was an avid pilot, and died in a single-fatality crash of his personal experimental aircraft after several touch and go landings, he was unable to reach the planes fuel tank switch-over lever, located behind his left shoulder instead of the standard position, located between the legs. John and his mechanic were aware of the issue and had tried unsuccessfully to fix it before he took his final flight. He declined refueling stating he was only going to fly for an hour. When one tank emptied, John was unable to reach the fuel switch-over lever without turning his body 90 degrees and using his foot as leverage he caused the plane to pitch, and dive head first into the water. John Denver died Sunday, October 12th at the age of 53.