John Denver

John Denver

Every decade or so, an extraordinary musician who truly embodies the wholesome spirit of America captures the heart of the country. Singer/songwriter John Denver was, without a doubt, one of these rare individuals.

Among the most popular musicians of the 1970s, his contributions to American culture extended far beyond the tender music he is best known for, but stretched from environmentalism and philanthropy to a hearty interest in space exploration.

Born in New Mexico in 1943, John Denver experienced a uniquely varied childhood, frequently relocating throughout the Southwest with his Air Force family. After he discovered guitar as a teenager, Denver's interest in music blossomed. Eventually, the young songwriter joined the Chad Mitchell Trio in Los Angeles, using his strong understanding of composition to revive the fading ensemble. Denver received his first major success when his song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary, and rapidly climbed to #1 on the pop charts.

From here, Denver's fame increased and his music's popularity grew, as he released such immortal works as "Take Me Home, Country Roads," Thank God, I'm a Country boy" and "Rocky Mountain High." As he gained recognition worldwide, John's political and social views became more defined and more central to his music. His fans embraced his gentle humanitarian message and found comfort in his clean-cut and wholesome appearance. Amidst countless global tours, Denver traveled to the Soviet Union, where he recorded and performed songs promoting understanding between Eastern and Western cultures. It was this ability to connect with listeners of all nationalities, ages, and political leanings that made John Denver one of the most beloved and influential recording artists of the 20th century.

* John Denver's original name was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. He was urged to adopt a stage name early in his music career, and originally used John Sommerville, but he eventually took his name from the capital of Colorado, a region that he had a lifelong fondness for.

* Denver's interest in space travel was well known, and led him to witness the launch of Apollo/Soyuz 1, the first mission on which the U.S. and U.S.S.R cooperated. He was so inspired by the experience that he continued to attended launches and even took NASA's physical and mental examination to see if he was fit for space travel. He passed.

* He was a popular candidate to be the first civilian in space. He would have travelled on the Challenger space shuttle, but a twist of fate prevented him from joining that ill-fated 1986 mission.

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