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Denver, John

John Denver

Singer, songwriter

Heart Longs for Mountains

Music Promotes Goodwill Causes

Final Album and Take Me-Home

Selected discography

Selected writings

Sources

An internationally-loved singer and songwriter, John Denver was also a some-time actor and an active humanitarian. In 1976, a Newsweek writer did not hesitate to describe him as the most popular pop singer in America. His music career spanned nearly three decades and he touched the hearts of millions with his wholesome uplifting lyrics and country-style folk songs that celebrate the natural beauty of the environment and the joy of simply being alive. At the age 53, Denvers life and career came to an end when his experimental Long-EZ model plane suddenly nosedived into the Pacific Ocean at Monterey Bay, California, killing him instantly in the crash.

Throughout his career, Denver wrote and sang songs exuding the joy that he felt for life, love, and nature. His clear tenor vocals and folksy-country pop style brimmed with sincerity and optimism. A poet at heart, he was influenced by folk greats JoanBaez and Bob Dylan. He took much inspiration for his music from his love of the outdoors. He particularly loved the mountains and enjoyed camping, hiking, backpacking, and fishing. He was also an avid golfer, photographer, pilot, and was known to be a daredevil. Denver told Rick Overall of the Ottawa Sun, When I was growing up, my first and best friend was the outdoors and when I began to express myself, I used images from nature. This love coupled with his desire to serve humanity would become the inspiration for much of Denvers environmental conservation and humanitarian work, in which his music found many outlets.

Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. on December 31, 1943, in Roswell, New Mexico. He moved frequently while growing up with his parents, U.S. Air Force Colonel and pilot Henry John and Erma Deutschendorf, and younger brother Ronald. He lived in Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, and Japan. When he was eight years old, one of his grandmothers gave him a vintage Gibson guitar. Some of his fondest memories from childhood were times spent on his other grandmothers farm in Corn, Oklahoma. There he would listen to country music, play with the animals, and sleep under the stars.

Heart Longs for Mountains

A member of a rock band in high school, Denver continued performing while attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas during the early 1960s. However, after more than two years studying architecture, the pull of music prevailed. He left school in 1964, adopted the stage name of John Denver and headed to Los Angeles, California. He told Newsweek he chose

For the Record

Born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., December 31, 1943, in Roswell, NM; died October 12, 1997; son of Henry John and Erma Deutschendorf; married Ann Martell, June 1967 (divorced 1983); children: Zachary and Anna Kate (both adopted); married Cassandra Delaney (divorced 1991); children: Jessie Belle. Education: Attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, 1961-64.

Began music career while in college, but left school for Los Angeles, CA, in 1964; adopted stage name, c. 1964; replaced Chad Mitchell of the Chad Mitchell Trio, 1965; wrote number one hit song, Leaving On A Jet Plane, recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary, 1967; signed with RCA, 1969; started his own label,Windsong, 1975; appeared in the film, Oh, God !, 1977; wrote The Gold And Beyond for the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo; became first Western artist to tour China, 1992; appeared in the film Walking Thunder, 1993; published autobiography, Take Me Home, 1994.

Awards: Poet laureate of Colorado, 1974; Country Music Association, Entertainer of the Year, 1975; American Music Awards, Favorite Male Artist, Pop/Rock, 1975 and 1976; American Music Awards, Favorite Male Artist, Country, and Favorite Album, Country, 1976; Emmy Award, Best Musical Variety Special, 1976, for Rocky Mountain Christmas; Presidential World Without Hunger Award, 1987; Albert Schweitzer Music Award, 1993.

Addresses: Record Company Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., Suite 1775, New York, NY 10022-3211. Website www.music.sony.com/Music/ArtistInfo/JohnDenver/index.html.

Denver because my heart longed to live in the mountains. In Los Angeles, he played the acoustic guitar, sang folk songs, and performed at a club called Ledbetters. He also became a member of the Back Porch Majority. Denvers first big break was in New York City, when he replaced Chad Mitchell of the Chad Mitchell Trio. He sang with the group, played guitar and banjo, and recorded pop and folk songs with them from 1965-68. He met his first wife, Ann Martell, while performing with the trio at her college; the couple were married in 1967.

In 1969, after the song Denver wrote for Peter, Paul, and Mary, Leaving On A Jet Plane, became a number one hit, he signed with RCA Records. Denver would go on to release many singles and albums which would become worldwide hits. The first of his million-selling singles was Take Me Home, Country Roads, written with Bill and Taffy Danoff in 1971. This triumph was followed by a string of hits, including Rocky Mountain High, Annies Song, Thank God Im A Country Boy, Sunshine On My Shoulders, and many more. His 1973 album, John Denvers Greatest Hits, remains one of the biggest selling albums in the history of RCA Records, surviving on Billboards Top 200 for over three years, with sales topping 10 million copies.

In 1975, Denver founded his own label, Windsong Records, and released Starlands Vocal Bands song, Afternoon Delight, which became a number one single. By the 1990s he had 14 gold and eight platinum albums to his credit.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Denver was a popular and frequent television performer. He performed with various artists, including Itzhak Perlman, Placido Domingo, Beverly Sills, Julie Andrews, and the Muppets. He won many music awards, and garnered an Emmy Award in 1976 for his television special, Rocky Mountain Christmas.

In 1977 he appeared in the film Oh, God!, also starring George Burns, and later he acted in the 1993 film Walking Thunder. When such incredible popular success did not translate into critical acceptance, Denver remained cheerful. He told Chet Flippo of Rolling Stone, I dont mind if [critics] call me the Mickey Mouse of rock.

Music Promotes Goodwill Causes

During the 1980s the popularity of Denvers music waned in the United States, with the rise of new wave music and disco; but he continued touring internationally. He also donated his time to various charitable and political causes. In 1984, he toured the Soviet Union and recorded a duet with Russian pop singer Alexandre Gradsky, called Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?). Also that year, he wrote and performed a song for the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, The Gold And Beyond.

In 1987 he received the Presidential World Without Hunger Award from Ronald Reagan, his documentary about endangered species, Rocky Mountain Reunion, won six awards, and he performed a benefit concert for the survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. In 1992 Denver became the first western artist to tour China.

In 1993, Denver became the first nonclassical musician to receive the Albert Schweitzer Music Award for his humanitarian efforts. Nearly two decades earlier, the musician had expressed his views on social activism in the Saturday Evening Post: People on an individual basis will make changesnot protesters or lobbyists. People who do what they really know to be right or true. Little things. In traffic, in grocery stores, you let somebody else in front of you. Thats peace. And yet, he proceeded to make so many contributions that could not be called little.

He co-founded the Windstar Foundation in 1975 and, later, the Hunger Project. He was a member of a United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) delegation that toured drought-suffering African nations. He was a board member of the National Space Institute and the Cousteau Society, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). He performed a live concert in 1995 celebrating the 100th anniversary of WCS. The concert was recorded and later released on a double CD and on video. One of his favorite charities was a camp for deaf children in Aspen, Colorado.

Final Album and Take Me-Home

His final album of all original material, Different Directions, was released in 1991 under his Windstar label. One of his later albums, a compilation of tunes following a theme of trains and railroads was called All Aboard. Reviewer and fan Doug Speedie of Jam! Showbiz felt it was John Denver at his best. Another reviewer for Publishers Weekly rated the album an A and noted Denvers range of musical styles including swing, blue-grass, mournful a capella, and even yodeling. However, his 1994 autobiography, Take Me Home, was given low marks by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who called it self-indulgent.

The last five or six years of Denvers personal life had been rocky. In 1991 he and his second wife, Cassandra Delaney, divorced. In 1993 and 1994 he was arrested on drunk driving charges. Through these difficulties, friends and family said Denver never lost his enthusiasm for life. Longtime producer and friend Milt Okun claimed that Denver had cleaned up his behavior and that during a phone call the Friday preceding his death, Denver had talked excitedly about plans he had for the future, including picking up his new experimental plane. Denver flew his plane in spite of a 1996 suspension of his aviation license, reportedly connected to his drunk driving charges. However, alcohol was not suspected to be involved in his crash, according to Monterey County Sheriff, Norman Hicks.

Memorial services followed Denvers private funeral. On October 17, 1997, some 2, 000 people mourned his death at the Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Colorado. A second service, at the Aspen Music Tent Amphitheater the next day, attracted about 1, 500 people. During a tribute, Paul Winter played Icarus, a song based on the mythological story about a boy who flew too close to the sun and perished. Denvers ashes were to be scattered over the Rockies. He is survived by three children.

Selected discography

(With the Mitchell Trio) The Mitchell Trio: Thats the Way Its Gonna Be, Mercury, 1965.

Rhymes and Reasons, RCA, 1969.

Take Me To Tomorrow, RCA, 1970.

Whose Garden Was This, RCA, 1970.

Poems, Prayers, and Promises, RCA, 1971.

Aerie, RCA, 1972.

Farewell Andromeda, RCA, 1973.

John Denvers Greatest Hits (includes Take Me Home Country Road, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders, Leaving On A Jet Plane), RCA, 1973, reissued, 1988.

Back Home Agian (includes Annies Song and Thank God Im a Country Boy), RCA, 1974.

Rocky Mountain Christmas, RCA, 1975.

An Evening With John Denver, RCA, 1975.

Windsong, RCA, 1975.

Live in London, RCA, 1976.

Spirit, RCA, 1976.

I Want To Live, RCA, 1977.

The Best of John Denver, Volume 2, RCA, 1977.

John Denver, RCA, 1979.

A Christmas Together With the Muppets, RCA, 1979.

Autograph, RCA, 1980.

Some Days Are Diamonds, RCA, 1981.

Perhaps Love, CBS, 1981.

Seasons of the Heart, RCA, 1982.

Its About Time, RCA, 1983.

Collection, Telstar, 1984.

Dreamland Express, RCA, 1985.

One World (includes Let Us Begin [What Are We Making Weapons For?]), RCA, 1986.

Different Directions, Windstar, 1991.

Wildlife Concert, Sony Legacy, 1995.

The Rocky Mountain Collection, RCA, 1996.

All Aboard, Columbia/Sony, 1997.

The Best of John Denver Live, Legacy, 1997.

Selected writings

(With Arthur Tobier) Take Me Home: An Autobiography, Harmony, 1994.

Sources

Books

Rees, Dafydd and Luke Crampton, editors, Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Dorling Kindersly, 1996.

Romanowski, Patricia and Holly George-Warren, editors, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Fireside, 1995.

Periodicals

Detroit News, October 18, 1997.

Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 1997.

Jam! Showbiz, October 15, 1997.

Newsweek, December 20, 1976, pp. 60-62, 65.

New York Times, October 14, 1997, p. B11.

Ottawa Sun, October 14, 1997.

People, November 3, 1997, p. 30.

Publishers Weekly, October 17, 1994, p. 69; September 8, 1997, p. 33.

Rolling Stone, November 27, 1997, p. 24.

Saturday Evening Post, January 1974, p. 57-58, 85.

U.S. News & World Report, October 27, 1997, p. 18.

USA Today, October 14, 1997. p. 1-2D.

Online

www.cdnow.com/

www.cduniverse.com/

www.sky.net/~emily/articles/biograph.jd

Additional information was provided by Sony Music.

Debra Reilly

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Denver, John

John Denver

American singer and songwriter John Denver (1943–1997) gained international popularity in the 1970s with pleasant, well-crafted songs, many of them extolling the beauties and the spiritual gifts of the natural world.

Denver backed up his ideas with activism in later years, devoting his energies to the causes of land conservation and environmental awareness. His death in an aviation accident at age 53 shocked his numerous fans, 1,500 of whom turned out for a memorial service held in Aspen, Colorado, where he had lived for many years. "We made a fortune, tens and tens of millions of dollars," Denver's manager told Peter Castro of People, reflecting on Denver's influence. "If you give Elvis the '50s and the Beatles the '60s, I think you've got to give John Denver the '70s."

Raised in Military Family

Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. on December 31, 1943, in the military town of Roswell, New Mexico. His father, nicknamed "Dutch," was a U.S. Air Force test pilot whose hard-drinking ways were transferred to his son. New Air Force postings took the family to various southern and southwestern states, and temporarily to Japan; Denver often clashed with his conservative father, and he once tried to run away from home. His happiest times came on his grandmother's farm in Oklahoma, where he heard the classic country music of the era. His other grandmother also shaped his musical education by giving him an antique Gibson guitar. In 1957 the family settled in Fort Worth, Texas; Denver attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock and sang in a folk-music group called the Alpine Trio while pursuing architecture studies.

California's folk and rock music scenes were growing rapidly in the early and middle 1960s, and in 1964 Denver dropped out of Texas Tech and moved to Los Angeles, making up the stage name John Denver to indicate a general attraction to the mountainous West. He began performing at Ledbetter's nightclub and signed on as lead vocalist for a group called the Back Porch Majority. In 1965 he scored a breakthrough when he replaced Chad Mitchell as vocalist, guitarist, and banjoist for the Chad Mitchell Trio, a prime attraction on college campuses and in folk-oriented coffeehouses. Denver bested some 250 other performers who auditioned for the job.

Performing with the group at a college in Minnesota, Denver met sophomore Annie Martell; the two were married the following year and later adopted two children. Denver began to focus on songwriting, and he released a solo album, Rhymes and Reasons, in 1968 after the Mitchell Trio disbanded. The album included the "Ballad of Richard Nixon," and another song about Vice President Spiro Agnew; and it also contained "Leaving on a Jet Plane," a song Denver wrote in a single evening after he locked himself in his room, as he later recalled, with a pound of salami and a six-pack of beer. It was originally titled "Babe, I Hate to Go." The young couple's finances were boosted when "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was recorded by folk superstars Peter, Paul & Mary and became a major pop hit, its depiction of a sweet but slightly ominous separation of two lovers striking a chord at the height of the Vietnam War. Denver was able to fulfill his dream by moving to Aspen, Colorado, in 1970.

He continued to record folk-pop albums for the RCA label, and in 1971 he emerged as a star with "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Denver co-wrote the song with Bill and Taffy Danoff, and over the next decade he would write or co-write most of the material that made him a pop phenomenon. "The songs would just come from him, as if he was a vehicle from God that the songs flowed through," Annie Denver was quoted as saying in the Denver Post after Denver's death. "It was a part of him that he wasn't very ego-attached to. The man was driven to write songs. The music came out of a very deep place. And oftentimes, out of that deepness, John felt very alone. If you listen to his songs, there's a lot of loneliness there."

Crossed Genre Boundaries

More hits followed, including "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," "Annie's Song" (dedicated to his wife and reportedly written in ten minutes on a Colorado ski lift), "Sunshine on My Shoulders," and "Some Days Are Diamonds." Perhaps the most memorable, at least for residents of his home state, was the Colorado ode "Rocky Mountain High," which praised "the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake" and wrapped up the back-to-nature philosophies of the 1960s counterculture in a universally appealing package. Colorado governor John Vanderhoof named Denver the state's poet laureate in 1974. Denver's songs were equally popular among pop and country audiences, and Denver took home the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award in 1975. Country traditionalists were dismayed; awards-show host Charlie Rich actually set fire to Denver's award envelope with a cigarette lighter.

The divide between popular taste and the attitudes of music critics was widening in the early 1970s, and Denver was never a critical favorite. British rock writer Dave Laing even referred to "Sunshine on My Shoulders" as "egregious" in Denver's obituary. Denver's image, with his mop-top haircut and wire-rimmed "granny" glasses, was about 15 years out of date at the peak of his fame, harking back to the collegiate-folk stage of his career, and his predominantly optimistic lyrics ("Some Days Are Diamonds" being an exception) were derided as sentimental or over-sweet.

Denver responded mildly to such criticisms, telling People that "some of my songs are about very simple things in life. But those simple things are meaningful to me and have obviously meant something to people all over the world, even if it's only in a karaoke bar." His music was defended by country singer Kathy Mattea. "A lot of people write him off as lightweight," she told Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly. "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."

Indeed, Denver in the mid-1970s was arguably America's most celebrated male entertainer. His 1973 Greatest Hits album remained on Billboard magazine's chart of top album sellers for about three years. In 1975 and 1976, Denver won four American Music Awards—honors that measured the sentiments of music buyers rather than industry figures. Of his 24 albums released on the RCA label during his lifetime, 14 were eventually certified gold (for sales of 500,000 copies), and eight of those reached the platinum or million-seller mark.

Formed Foundation

Denver succeeded in extending his run in the spotlight well into the 1980s. He appeared opposite octogenarian comedian George Burns in the film Oh, God! (1977), and he served as host for numerous television specials; one of them, 1975's Rocky Mountain Christmas, was issued in album form and also won him an Emmy Award. He sang duets with vocalists ranging from opera star Plácido Domingo to musical comedienne Julie Andrews to roots-country revivalist Emmylou Harris (the underrated "Wild Montana Skies"). He founded the Windstar (or Windsong) label, which released the disco hit "Afternoon Delight," recorded by Bill and Taffy Danoff as the Starland Vocal Band. But he also began to look toward a future in which he would work to safeguard the wilderness that had inspired many of his best songs. He founded the nonprofit Windstar Foundation in 1976 and the World Hunger Project in 1977.

The latter enterprise got him appointed to the Commission on World and Domestic Hunger by President Jimmy Carter. Having generally avoided political themes in his music up to that point, Denver devoted much of his energy to political causes in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to wilderness and wildlife preservation, he was active in support of world anti-hunger initiatives, the United Nations Children's Fund and other projects aimed at improving the lives of children, and of peace groups and organizations opposed to the spread of nuclear weaponry. Although he was critical of Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Denver worked effectively with leaders of both parties, and in 1987 he received the Presidential World Without Hunger Award from Reagan. That was followed by an Albert Schweitzer Music Award for humanitarian activity in 1993, making Denver the first musician from outside the classical sphere to earn the award. (Albert Schweitzer was a world-famous humanitarian, theologian, and classical organist who served as a medical relief worker in Africa.)

When Denver did perform or record during the 1980s and early 1990s his music often served activist ends. He toured the Soviet Union and recorded a song, "Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?)," with Russian vocalist Alexandre Gradsky, and in 1992 he became one of the first Western pop artists to tour in modern-day Communist China. Denver also gave a concert in the Soviet Union to benefit survivors of the Chernobyl nuclear-plant disaster, and his 1980 television special Rocky Mountain Reunion, dealing with species endangerment, won several awards.

Denver's personal life during his later years was less happy. After what he admitted were multiple episodes of infidelity, Denver's wife, Annie, asked him for a divorce in 1982. A second marriage in 1988 to young Australian actress Cassandra Delaney produced a daughter, Jesse Belle, but also ended in divorce. Denver was also troubled by his inability to get a major label recording contract; his last several albums were issued on his own Windstar label. "There's a thing they call the Dark Night of the Soul," he was quoted as saying by Nash. "I've been through that, and I've survived it." Twice in the early 1990s Denver was arrested on charges of driving drunk.

One bright spot for Denver came from his aviation hobby, which he took up in the mid-1970s. Denver's father taught him to fly, and the experience helped bring about a reconciliation between father and son. He became an experienced pilot, flying his own planes in Colorado, on tour, and in California's Monterey Peninsula area, where he rented a home in Carmel so that he could be near Delaney and Jesse Belle. It was there that he purchased a Long EZ aircraft from a local veterinarian in the summer of 1997. The plane model was classified as experimental, but it was well known among aviation enthusiasts, and Denver experienced no problems during lessons in Santa Maria, California.

On October 12, 1997, Denver played golf with friends and looked forward to an hour of flying his new aircraft over the ocean. Several practice takeoffs and landings went off uneventfully, but apparently drained one of the plane's two fuel tanks. Late in the afternoon, onlookers saw Denver's plane plummet into the ocean after what appeared to be an engine failure. The singer was probably killed instantly. Denver's pilot's license, due to his drunk-driving arrests, was missing the medical endorsement required to make it legal, and toxicology tests were run on his remains, but they came back negative. Denver is thought to have lost control of the plane while fumbling with a lever that shifted the engine's fuel supply from one tank to the other. A strong outpouring of fan emotion followed his tragic death, and a musical featuring his songs, Almost Heaven, had its premiere in 2005. The show, noted Variety reviewer Mark Blankenship, "pays excellent tribute to an artist who remains great at making people feel good."

Books

Contemporary Musicians, volume 22, Gale, 1998.

Denver, John, Take Me Home: An Autobiography, Harmony, 1994.

Periodicals

Denver Post, October 14, 1997.

Entertainment Weekly, October 24, 1997; October 18, 2002.

Guardian (London, England), October 14, 1997.

People, October 27, 1997.

Variety, November 14, 2005.

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Denver, John

John Denver

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

For the Record

Compositions

Selected discography

Sources

John Denver is a pop star whose name is synonymous with music that celebrates lifes simple pleasures. Wearing granny glasses and relatively long hair, the singer/songwriter first charmped audiences in the 1970s with his country-boy appeal and lyrics that extolled goodness, love, and natural beauty. Indeed, hit songs like Take Me Home, Country Roads and Rocky Mountain High brought him national recognition and eventual acclaim as the nature-loving singer who shaped a whole musical ethos during the seventies, reported Alice Steinbach in the Saturday Review.

Even as he reached stardom, however, the entertainer had begun to slight his musical career, choosing instead to concentrate on efforts to preserve the environment and find solutions to the problem of world hunger. Only in the mid-1980s, after a long hiatus from the spotlight, has Denver begun to express an interest in renewing his musical career. In fact, the musician-turned-political activist told Steinbach in a 1985 interview that in the future he hopes to return to music and become a role model for young people.

Denver received his first guitar as a gift from his grandmother when he was in the seventh grade. He failed to take much of an interest in the instrument, though, until Elvis Presley revolutionized the music world. Excited by the Kings example, the teenager started playing the guitar in earnest, becoming good enough to perform with local groups and to entertain at parties. After entering Texas Tech University as an architecture student, he continued to indulge his interest in music, earning an income by doing solo gigs, singing with a trio, and playing guitar in a band. Finally, midway through his junior year, the college student left school to pursue his musical calling.

The aspiring musician initially headed for Los Angeles, California, where his skills sparked some interest at Capitol Records. He cut a demonstration record for the label and even, after some prompting by Capitol, changed his surname to Denver (from the original Deutschendorf), but the recording company failed to release the singles. From Los Angeles the young artist traveled to New York City, where he successfully auditioned for a place with the [Chad] Mitchell Trio. He spent three years with the group, singing, playing guitar and banjo, and witnessing the release of the first album featuring his talents, The Mitchell Trio: Thats the Way Its Gonna Be.

When the group folded in 1968, Denver struck out on his own. While with the trio he had composed his first hit, Leaving on a Jet Plane (recorded by folk singers Peter, Paul, and Mary), and the publicity from that success helped him line up engagements playing for coffee house and college audiences. Before long, he

For the Record

Real name, Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. ; born December 31, 1943, in Roswell, N.M.; son of Henry John (a U.S. Air Force career man) and Erma Deutschendorf; married AnnMartell, June, 1967 (divorced, c. 1983); children: (adopted) Zachary, Anna Kate. Education: Attended Texas Tech University, two-and-a-half years.

Singer and songwriter, 1960s; began career while a college student, early 1960s; vocalist and instrumentalist (guitar and banjo) with the New York City-based Mitchell Trio, 1965-68; played in coffee houses and on college campuses, 1968-69; signed recording contract with RCA Victor, 1969; formed John Denver Enterprises; provided soundtrack for the CBS television film Sunshine; actor in the film Oh God; associated with CBS movie A Christmas Present, 1986. Political activist, 1970s.

Awards: Named poet laureate of Colorado; named male vocalist of the year by the Academy of Country Music, 1975; named country music entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association, 1975; Back Home Again named song of the year by the Country Music Association, 1975.

Addresses: Home Aspen CO;Office John Denver Concerts Inc., P.O. Box 1587, Aspen CO 81612.

had signed a recording contract with RCA and his career was launched.

During the early 1970s Denver enjoyed celebrity as one of pop musics superstars. He released the million-selling single Take Me Home, Country Roads in 1971 and followed it in 1972 with the platinum album Rocky Mountain High and in 1974 with the successful Back Home Again. Although the musician and his compositions impressed some critics as corny, the star more often captivated listeners with his honesty and unabashed enthusiasm and was frequently invited to appear on television variety specials as well as to guest star in dramatic series.

Concurrent with his music career, Denver was pursuing his interest in a number of causes important to him, and by the mid- to late 1970s issues like the environment and hunger had superceded the place of music in his life. In 1977 he helped found the World Hunger Project and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Commission on World Hunger; he also began playing benefit concerts, including one for NASA, and he has made unofficial goodwill musical tours of the Soviet Union and China. Although involved in a host of projects, Denver has remained most dedicated to eradicating what he calls the obscenity of world hunger and has spent recent years, according to Steinbach, donating money, raising money and working on hunger and agrarian reform commissions.

Once regarded as the Tom Sawyer of Rock, Denver is now, in Steinbachs estimation, a thoughtful, serious and socially-committed man. But he is also a man who Although involved in a host of projects, Denver has remained most dedicated to eradicating what he calls the obscenity of world hunger. believes that youngsters need additional role models to choose from in todays world. The artists album Dreamland Express marks one step toward returning to a musical career that he hopes will enable him to inspire young people. He told Steinbach, I want people to look outside of the narrow focus we all get caught up in and see that whether you live in Aspen or in Africa, underneath we are all the same. The multitalented Denver, concluded Linda Feldman for McCalls, is every bit the Renaissance man.

Compositions

Composer of more than fifty songs, including Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High, and Take Me Home, Country Roads.

Selected discography

(With the Mitchell Trio)The Mitchell Trio: Thats the Way Its Gonna Be, Mercury, 1965.

Rhymes and Reasons, RCA, 1969.

Take Me to Tomorrow, RCA, 1970.

Whose Garden Was This, RCA, 1970.

Poems, Prayers, and Promises, RCA, 1971.

Aerie, RCA, 1972. Rocky Mountain High, RCA, 1972.

Farewell Andromeda, RCA, 1973.

Back Home Again, RCA, 1974.

The Best of John Denver, RCA, 1974.

Rocky Mountain Christmas, RCA, 1975.

An Evening With John Denver, RCA, 1975.

Windsong, RCA, 1975.

Live in London, RCA, 1976.

Spirit, RCA, 1976.

I Want to Live, RCA, 1977.

The Best of John Denver, Volume 2, RCA, 1977.

John Denver, RCA, 1979.

A Christmas Together With the Muppets, RCA, 1979.

Autograph, RCA, 1980.

Some Days Are Diamonds, RCA, 1981.

Perhaps Love, CBS, 1981.

Seasons of the Heart, RCA, 1982.

Its About Time, RCA, 1983.

Collection, Telstar, 1984.

Spirit, RCA, 1984.

Dreamland Express, RCA, 1985.

Sources

Books

Fleischer, Leonore, John Denver, Flash, 1976.

Morse, Charles, John Denver, Creative Ed., 1974.

Periodicals

McCalls, December, 1987.

Newsweek, December 20, 1976.

People, February 26, 1979.

Saturday Evening Post, January, 1974.

Seventeen, March, 1974.

Saturday Review, September/October, 1985.

Nancy H. Evans

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