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John Denver – Down to Earth Country Boy

Music | August 20, 2018

CIRCA 1970: Photo of John Denver Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The legendary name, John Denver, is unarguably well-known worldwide. Likewise, is his face. His iconic look was always that of a down to earth, country boy; no frills… just plain and simple. Denver didn’t necessarily think of himself as a superstar. He just did what he loved and that was making music! Along the way, we all came to appreciate his simple, yet HUGE, messages that came through loud and clear in all of his songs.

Denver was born in New Mexico as Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. As many artists and performers will do, Deutschendorf adopted a stage name; something catchy that would be easy to remember. He chose the name “Denver” because Denver, Colorado was his happy place and truly resonated with his soul. John Denver embraced the simple way of life and made it his life’s work to bring it to all of us in song.

With John Denver, it was always… what you see is what you get!

John Denver had a low-key and unassuming way about him. Fans were able to identify with him because he exuded the aura of an ordinary man; not someone caught up in fame and show business. His look was that of a small-town guy. He had the, then popular, long hair that men were wearing with his signature, round glasses. Denver was most comfortable in denim, flannel and the style of a working man’s clothes.

The iconic John Denver was a highly celebrated, multi-platinum singer and songwriter.

The list of John Denver’s hit songs is quite extensive. This list includes some awesome songs including Annie’s Song, Take Me Home Country Roads, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders, I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane and Thank God I’m a Country Boy. The list, literally, goes on and on. The messages that Denver’s song sent were of mellow and happy times…. a state of mind we all longed for during the counterculture.

Despite the fact that he was one of the most famous and successful singer/songwriters in American music history, John Denver’s superstar status couldn’t protect him from reality.

We often tend to assume that because a person is professionally and financially successful that they “have it made.” This is not necessarily the case, however. John Denver is said to have had his demons. One of his demons was an addition to alcohol. Just like the rest of us, he was only human. At one point, he had the world at his fingertips but, unfortunately, he may not have been prepared for it. Like anything else, fame comes with a price.

John Denver wrote and performed some of the most peaceful and thought-provoking songs of his era.

With all of this in mind, Denver no doubt inspired audiences with his easy style. All the while, he struggled with his own inner peace. After the divorce between he and his first wife, Annie, a bitter seed had been planted in his heart. He was never quite the same after that. If you recall, Annie was his inspiration for, Annie’s Song.  

Unfortunately, fame seemed to the be downfall of Denver’s marriage to Annie. All of the principles that he tried so hard to make clear to others had failed him. His epic success ultimately drove a wedge between the two. Fortunately, however, he was able to pick up the pieces and married again.

Denver was an avid and experienced pilot and owned his own airplane.

Flying airplanes was another one of John Denver’s passions. There is just something so liberating and free about being in the sky all alone. Sadly, flying, something he loved to do, was how this icon lost his life. He was piloting an experimental plane that crashed into the Monterey Bay in California in 1997.  

There has been a debate going on since the time of his death that he actually committed suicide, but nothing has ever been confirmed. Because of his experience as a pilot, it has been said that he purposely crashed the plane in order to end his own misery.

John Denver had always loved, and subsequently adopted Colorado as his home State. He loved the peaceful feel of it and for his entire adult life, maintained a home in Aspen. All he ever wanted to do was to make music and enjoy the simple life. In the process, his life played out in the public eye. Denver was the first person ever inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, and rightfully so. 

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.