Thirteen years ago today, on October 12, 1997, John Denver died when an experimental plane he was flying went down in Monterey Bay. He was only 53 years old. I was living in Colorado at the time, and I remember the whole state was in mourning and state flags were lowered to half mast.
I loved John Denver. His 1978 concert at the LSU Assembly Center was the second of my 15-year-old life. (My parents took me after I agreed to go with them to see Liberace.) I still have the concert program. It lives on a shelf right next to my Donny Osmond three-ring binder.
Almost 22 years earlier to the day of his death, on October 13, 1975, John won the coveted Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Charlie Rich was the presenter, and after he opened the envelope and announced the winner he pulled out his lighter and set the card on fire. Because John Denver wasn’t country enough. And Charlie Rich was, to use his own words, “a little overmedicated.”
I had a hard time choosing which song to play here, but decided to go with “Leaving On A Jet Plane” because helped launch his career after Peter, Paul & Mary recorded it and it became a hit for them in 1969. This is a classic 1972 clip from “Midnight Special” with Mama Cass and John. (It made me laugh that the beginning is of them talking about voter apathy and the importance of going to the polls, just like in today’s news … it’s like some political take on Back to the Future.)
We miss you Henry John Deutschendorf!
Category: In Case You Haven't Heard