John Denver

John Denver, born December 31, 1943, first received a guitar as a gift from his grandmother at the age of 10. Little did she know that John Denver would be known today as one of the most influential country singers since the 1970s. John Denver, as a solo singer, performed at sold-out venues and recorded over 300 songs. He also founded and supported many organizations as an environmentalist and world hunger activist.


John Denver, then known as Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., attended college but dropped out before completing his degree and instead moved to New York and auditioned for a singing group. He performed with the Chad Mitchell Trio for three years. In 1969 he changed his name to John Denver and signed to Mercury RCA Records as a solo artist, where he received great success. His first single was “Rhymes and Reasons.” Under this label, he went on to record four reasonably successful albums in the next two years.


John Denver played on an acoustic guitar and mainly sung about relationships, music, and nature. He composed most of his songs and was soon playing to sold-out crowds worldwide. Fans loved his handsome, clean-cut style and easy-going country and folk style music.


In 1971 John Denver released what will be one of his most successful albums, called Poems, Prayers, and Promises. His catchy songs like “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (on the album Back Home Again, released 1974) helped in John Denver’s rise to fame. John Denver is best known for the songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".


He released 12 gold albums and 4 platinum. His songs were listed on many charts, including the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and best of country and western. He won many awards for his music, such as Top Male Recording Artist and Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year (1975).


John Denver also played in small roles across television and small films. His film debut was in 1977, in Oh, God! starring George Burns. He went on to host or star in many television specials. These specials were moderately successful and he enjoyed each role.


In 1976, John Denver cofounded the Windstar Foundation and founded the World Hunger Project in 1977. He was a devout environmentalist, his name change inspired by the beautiful scenery in Denver, Colorado. He wanted to preserve the beauty of nature and was a member in many organizations, such as: National Space Institute, the Cousteau Society, Friends of the Earth, Save the Children Foundation, and the European Space Agency. He also became chair of the UNICEF in 1984. He won many awards for his humanitarian work on hunger, wildlife, and environmental issues.


John Denver died suddenly in a plane crash on October 12, 1997 to the detriment of fans everywhere. He left behind three children: Anna Kate, Zachary, and Jesse Bell, and was married twice. He also left behind a legacy of country and folk music that will be appreciated and loved indefinitely.