John Denver: Introduction (04:03)
John Denver died in a plane accident at the age of 53 near Monterey Bay. Friends and colleagues describe the impact of the pop star's career and activism. The Rocky Mountains in Colorado inspired most of his music. (Credits)
Denver's Childhood (04:12)
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. was born in Rosewell, New Mexico; Ron Deutschendorf describes Denver's difficulty at meeting new people. John "Dutch" Deutschendorf joined the Air Force during World War II and became one of their top pilots. Denver left college and traveled to California to play music where he met Randy Sparks and joined "The New Christy Minstrels."
Changed Name (03:16)
After Denver changed his name, he began performing with "Chad Mitchell Trio," who were music activists; watch an excerpt of the trio performing "Your Friendly Neighborhood Ku Klux Klan." Annie Martell met Denver during a performance in Minnesota.
Married in 1967 (03:10)
Denver produced Christmas albums and sent them to his friends as gifts, which included the song "Leaving on a Jet Plane." Mitch Okun gave the song to Peter, Paul, and Mary to record; Denver would occasionally perform it with the trio. The Army drafted Ron in 1968 for Vietnam War.
"Mitchell Trio" Breaks Up (03:21)
Okun and Denver met with Harry Jenkins at RCA records. Jerry Weintraub signed on as the singer's new manager because his albums were not selling. Colleagues and friends describe the singer's personality.
Breakthrough Record (03:11)
Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Weintraub describes the first time Denver heard his song on the radio.
Moving to the Rocky Mountains (03:30)
Denver relocated to Aspen, Colorado with his wife, years before it became a wealthy ski resort. When Annie and Denver went backpacking to Williams Lake the Persied Meteor Shower occurred, inspiration struck for "Rocky Mountain High."
"The John Denver Show" (03:33)
Denver charmed television audiences during a six-part live variety show series on the BBC. After its success, Denver hosted TV specials and documentaries in the U.S.
Greatest Hits Album (03:54)
Annie recalls how an argument inspired "Annie's Song." Colleagues describe Denver's ability to write anywhere.
Colleagues and friends describe how the issues of the time period influenced Denver's writing. Rock music critics despised the songwriter because of his image, not his music, calling him "The Mickey Mouse of Pop."
Household Name (04:28)
Denver assembled an extremely talented band including James Burton. The songwriter and Frank Sinatra co-headlined concerts at Harrah's and performed a television variety show. Annie and Denver adopted two children, Zak and Anna-Kate.
Late 1970s (04:04)
Denver appeared regularly on "The Muppets." Even though he was immensely popular, the songwriter suffered from self-esteem issues and took part in E.S.T. Denver forged a friendship with Jacques Cousteau and raised awareness of environmental issues.
Political Activism (05:17)
Denver campaigned against whaling, hunger in Africa, and supported Cousteau financially. Windstar, a foundation in Aspen, invested in solar and wind energy experiments. "Dutch" dies suddenly and Annie asks for a divorce.
Career Low Point (04:17)
Denver meets Cassandra Delaney in Australia in 1986. The songwriter campaigned for civilians to go into space and thought he would be selected for the Challenger Space Shuttle Mission. Denver was not selected to take part in "We Are the World," RCA dropped him as a client, and Delaney asked for a divorce.
Legacy of Denver (03:24)
Denver test flew "The Long-EZ" over Monterey Bay and crashed. Friends, ex-wives, and family discuss their reactions after hearing of the songwriter's death and his legacy.
Credits: John Denver: Country Boy (01:09)
Credits: John Denver: Country Boy
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