John Denver – American – Songwriter
One of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s, country-folk singer/songwriter John Denver’s gentle, environmentally conscious music established him among the most beloved entertainers of his era; wholesome and clean-cut, his appeal extended to fans of all ages and backgrounds and led to parallel careers as both an actor and a humanitarian.
His album “Back Home Again” sold more albums than any other albums in the 70s. Throughout his life, Denver records and releases approximately 300 songs, with 200 of which he’s the composer, with total sales of over 33 million. Below is one of his top songs which he’s performing with a few friends Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, Glen Campbell, and Mary Kay Place.
Coming from a military family meant moving around to many different places growing up. With his father serving as a pilot for the U.S. Air Force, Denver’s artistic journey begins at age eleven when his grandmother’s gives him an acoustic guitar (1910 Gibson acoustic). Playing his guitar was his way for him to overcome his shyness, insecurities and facing difficulties. As well as a way for him to make friends even though he’s an introvert around most people. Denver eventually takes guitar lessons and joins a boys’ choir.
His father wants him to go to college and make something of his life besides being a musician. So, he goes to college and studies Architecture for a while, but the music bug still pulls at his heart, and he drops out of college and starts his path to music.
Starting out his career performing in folk music groups in the late 1960s. One of his most popular songs he wrote was “I’m leaving on a Jet Plane”. Which Peter, Paul and Mary makes it a hit for him! It crazy that it’s his 4th album to finally have a hit song! Furthermore, he’s a part of the Chad Mitchell Trio. before eventually going solo. Where he has his most success.
His Jump To Being a Star
Like I wrote previously, the topics of his songs are mostly about nature, love, and loss. But fans felt his genuine love of performing and the honest portrayal of his songs. Plus, he had a genuine wholesome appeal about him that helped his career and even got him his own primetime television show. Not to shabby for someone that rejected 16 times by labels before RCA signed him. What a smart move on their part! Furthermore, he even dabbled in films such as “Oh God” as well as a movie called “Foxfire.” Also, who can forget the performances with The Muppets!
When it came to performing with other artists, it was really a diverse group of performers such as opera singer Beverly Sills. As well as violinist Itzhak Perlman and flautist James Galway. Also, Frank Sinatra is the “Friend” in Denver’s John Denver and Friend television special.
While their back-to-back co-billing at Harrah’s Tahoe was one of the most sought-after tickets in the casino hotel’s history. Denver and Placido Domingo recorded “Perhaps Love,” a song written by Denver, as a duet, earning the Spanish tenor considerable recognition outside of the opera world.
John Denver – The Humanitarian & Environmentalist
As important as singing and performing is for him, he’s also a very involved in being an environmentalist and humanitarian. His memberships included the National Space Institute, the Cousteau Society, Friends of the Earth, Save the Children Foundation, and the European Space Agency. This was something near and dear to his heart.
In 1976, he cofounded the Windstar Foundation, a non-profit wildlife preservation agency. In addition to founding the World Hunger Project in 1977, he’s personally appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the commission on World and Domestic Hunger. As well as being a chair member of the National UNICEF Day in 1984.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan presented Denver with the Presidential World Without Hunger Award. That same year, he won an additional six awards for Rocky Mountain Reunion, his documentary about endangered species. In 1993, he won the Albert Schweitzer Music Award for humanitarian efforts.
The Later Years
His career in the late 70s, was not going as well because rock n roll was taking over the airwaves and times were changing. His own personal life is changing as well with going through a divorce to his first wife with whom he two adopted children, his father passes and he’s personally dealing with bouts of depression and drinking.
To help him get through all that he is dealing with, he takes flying lessons and afterwards, when he’s back on tour, he meets his 2nd wife who he has a child with. She works on helping him get through his struggles. Just when things are looking up and he’s enjoying his time off the road by playing golf, signing a new record deal, and spending time with his family and friends.
He decides that he wants to take his plane out for a while. Shortly after the news channels were announcing the plane crash that takes his life. The Story was that he’s test flying an experimental plane he had recently purchased. After making a series of touch-and-go landings, he flew over the ocean when the plane banked right and plunged into the water of Monterey Bay, California.
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