Skip to main content

Biography of John Denver - Country Folk Singer and Songwriter

Country music inspires and captivates Nithya Venkat. She loves to listen to country music and enjoys listening to the songs by John Denver.

John Denver

John Denver

Henry John Deutschendorf, popularly known as John Denver, was a singer and songwriter of the 1970s. His songs are evergreen and are popular even today.

John Denver was born on December 31, 1943, in Roswell, New Mexico. He was the son of Lt.Co. Henry John Deutschendorf and Erma Louise Swope.

Music was his first love. The guitar was his best friend, but his interests extended beyond music. He also loved painting and photography.

John Denver's music and songs were inspired by nature, personal experiences, and his love for Colorado.

This article is an insight into the life of John Denver.

John Denver's Early Life

John Denver’s father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, and his family was transferred to different places frequently. Due to this, John Denver found it difficult to make friends or stay in a familiar place with known faces.

His maternal grandmother played a significant role in encouraging John Denver to learn music. At the age of eleven, she gifted John Denver with a guitar.

He took choir lessons and learned to play the guitar. When he was in Tucson, Arizona, he sang in the choir for two years. During that time, his father was transferred to Montgomery, Alabama, and from there, he was again transferred to Foxworth, Texas.

The transfers were a harrowing experience for John Denver. He felt unsettled and lonely.

In Foxworth, Texas, John Denver studied at Arlington Heights High School. He longed for Denver and wanted to get back to the place that he loved so much. In the third year of school, he borrowed his father’s car and made his escape to Denver.

His father brought him back to Foxworth to finish High School. He started playing in local clubs when he was in college.

He changed his name to John Denver from John Deutschendorf, as suggested by Randy Sparks, the founder of New Christ Minstrels.

John Denver went on to study architecture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Musical Career

In 1963, he dropped out of University and moved to Los Angeles, California. In Los Angeles, John Denver sang in many clubs, and later on, in 1965, he joined a club called The Mitchell Trio. He was with the club till 1969, after which he dropped out of the band and concentrated on singing as a solo artist.

He convinced people to let him play at various venues - schools, colleges, coffee houses, American Legion Hall. He offered to play for free. He garnered many loyal fans who loved his songs through his self-promotion. This convinced the RCA records to work with him.

"Rhymes and Reasons" was the first album released for RCA. In 1970 John Denver released two more records, "Take Me Tomorrow" and "Whose Garden Was This." After this, Jerry Weintraub became his manager and was responsible for John Denver's road to success.

After a few years, John Denver stopped working with Jerry Weintraub because he lost interest in promoting John Denver and was busy with other projects.

John Denver's Achievements

John Denver released "Poems, Prayers and Promises" in 1971. This album became a number one hit and became very popular. His song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" climbed the Billboard Charts to up to number two.

Scroll to Continue

In 1972, Rocky Mountain High became one of the Top Ten Albums. "Sunshine on my shoulders," "Annies' Song," "I'm Sorry," "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," and I'm Single" became No one songs.

"John Denver's Greatest Hits," "Back Home Again," and "Wind Song" became No one albums. He appeared in many TV shows and, later on, produced his TV show. His "Rocky Mountain Christmas Special" program was top-rated. He also appeared as a guest star in the "Muppet Show."

His live concert, "An Evening with John Denver," won the Emmy Award Outstanding Special Comedy-Variety or Music(ABC) for outstanding performance.

John Denver was a good actor; he acted in "Colorado Cattle Caper" and "Oh God." He hosted the Grammy Awards five times. He was one of the founders of "The Hunger Project" and contributed to the organization in many ways.

He wrote the song "I want to live" as the theme song for President Jimmy Carter's Commission on World Hunger. John Denver also supported UNICEF.

In 1970 John Denver and his father reconciled. His father taught him how to fly. They co-hosted a TV program, "The Higher We Fly – The History of Flight."

Role in Politics and Charity

In the mid-1970’s John Denver was actively involved in Politics. In 1976, he supported Jimmy Carter in his campaigns. He was the supporter of the Democratic Party and many charitable institutions that helped the poor and the hungry. He also supported the African AIDS crisis.

He was a member of Friends of Earth, Save the Children Foundation, and European Space Agency.

In 1976, he co-founded the Windstar Foundation, a non-profit Wildlife Preservation Agency.

In 1977, he formed the World Hunger Project. President Jimmy Carter appointed him on World Domestic Hunger Commission.

In 1987, he won six awards for “Rocky Mountain Reunion,” a documentary about endangered species.

In 1993, he won the Albert Schweitzer Music Award for his role in saving the environment and his contribution towards charity.

In 1984, he became a chair member of the National UNICEF Day.

Recognition After Death

On October 12, 1997, John Denver died in a Plane Crash. Even after his death, John Denver received many awards.

On September 24, 2007, friends of John Denver, together with the Wind Star Foundation, dedicated a bronze plaque at the place where John Denver's Plane crashed.

In the year, 1997 John Denver recorded an album titled "All Aboard" composed of railroad-themed songs. This album won a "Best Musical for Children Grammy" for him after his death.

On April 21, 2001, John Denver became inducted into the Colorado Hall of Fame.

John Denver's songs are popular even today across the world.



© 2013 Nithya Venkat


Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 13, 2020:

Ehren E Grunewald I totally agree his voice is great and "Flying For Me" is a beautiful song. Thank you for your visit.

Ehren E Grunewald from New Orleans, lives in NC on April 10, 2020:

He had a beautiful voice. One song that holds a special place in my heart is "Flying For Me," which he wrote as a tribute to the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Thanks for posting a great tribute!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on January 07, 2016:

Sunshine625, thank you for your visit. Rocky Mountain High is one of my many favorite songs.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on January 07, 2016:

Rocky Mountain High is now stuck in my head! Thank you! :)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 20, 2015:

CrisSp Neil Diamond is truly gifted with the golden voice! Thank you for the many votes and share.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on April 19, 2015:

John Denver's era is when we were actually listening to music. No props, no devices and equipment to adjust the tune because performers like him naturally performed with their gift... such beautiful voice and he writes his songs too.

One of my favourites from him (even now) is "Perhaps Love".

Good, delightful hub on JD. Up+++ and sharing plus posting his song on my Jukebox Page now.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 14, 2015:

suzettenaples John Denver is talented and he mesmerized his fans with his songs. It is sad that he had to die that way. Thank you for your visit.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on April 13, 2015:

John Denver is another favorite of mine. I have always loved his music and folk songs. He was so talented and died way too soon in that tragic plane crash. You did an excellent job on this write about him.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 24, 2015:

RoadMonkey he is one of my favorites too, his music never dies.

RoadMonkey on February 24, 2015:

I really loved John Denver's music. Such a loss!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 24, 2014:

lambservant it is a great loss to the world of music when he dies. Thank you for reading and sharing your views.

Lori Colbo from United States on September 23, 2014:

I got choked up reading this. I love John Denver. I went to a concert of his once and it was the most meaningful night of music I have ever experienced. I read his biography and was surprised that he was not exactly the tender hearted man he comes off as in his songs. However, we all have our issues, eh. I was so shocked when he died. A great loss to the world.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 23, 2014:

Daisy Mariposa thank you for the return visit, John Denver's music is amazing.

ChitrangadaSharan thank you for stopping by and reading.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 23, 2014:

Great, informative hub about the life and songs of John Denver!

I have heard his songs but not so much about him.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on September 23, 2014:


I returned to read your article another time, and to listen to some John Denver music.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 10, 2014:

PegCole17 thank you, am glad you enjoyed. I never get tired of listening to John Denver!!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 10, 2014:

Hi Vellur. I really enjoyed reading this bio of John Denver. He's one of my very favorite musical artists. I remember hearing his songs on the radio at the time they were on the pop charts. His message is beautiful and timely. Thanks for this great run down of his accomplishments and his life.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 09, 2014:

Jodah thank you, am glad you enjoyed.

Sunshine625 yes it is really very sad and a great loss.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on June 09, 2014:

An amazing artist that died way too young...

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 09, 2014:

Wonderful hub Vellur. John Denver is one of my all time favourite singers/entertainers and was a wonderful person. You offered great information here. I have also written a hub about him mainly featuring his album 'Poems, Prayers and Promises' and the poem featured on it called 'The Box'. Thank you for writing this hub. It was a pleasure to read. Voted up.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 16, 2013:

agvulpes it is a great tragedy when the music world lost him, thank you for stopping by.

Peter from Australia on June 16, 2013:

I have always been a big fan of John Denver and he is still very popular down here in Australia. It sure was a tragedy when we lost him.

Thanks a lot for this trip down memory lane :)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 16, 2013:

Thank you thost, his songs are evergreen.

thost from Dublin, Ireland on June 16, 2013:

Very good article about John Denver. I will always love his songs.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 12, 2013:

Docmo, thank you. Yes, you are right will add some more, his songs are great. Thanks for the vote and share.

Mohan Kumar from UK on June 12, 2013:

Great bio, Nithya. I am a big fan of 'Take me home, Country Roads' - it is good to see his bio and how he got to be such a great balladeer. Thanks for the info... up/shared. You could've added some videos too to spruce this up.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on June 11, 2013:

Lady_E yes, you have put is so well - his legacy lives on. Thank you.

Elena from London, UK on June 11, 2013:

Thanks Nithya, I listen to some Country Singers, but it's the first time I've heard of him and I am glad you included videos. Good on him to get involved in other things too for the sake of humanity.

His legacy lives on.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on May 01, 2013:

molometer John Denver's music lives on even today. Thank you for stopping by and for the share.

Micheal from United Kingdom on May 01, 2013:

Hello Nithya,

This was an interesting read and the music was lovely.

I have listened to John Denver for many years but not recently.

It was good to hear these great songs again.

Voted up and sharing.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 21, 2013:

creativelycc thank you. It was heart breaking when he died and such a sad way to go.

Carrie L Cronkite from Maine on April 20, 2013:

Beautiful tribute to an amazing legend. I loved his music when I was in high school and am still saddened by his death. Thank you for the memories. The best to you!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 17, 2013:

midget38 it is very sad he had to die in an accident. Yes that song is great. Thank you.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on April 16, 2013:

It's a pity about his accident...and his song I'm Leaving On A Jetplane so poignant. Thanks for sharing, Nithya.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 28, 2013:

beingwell thank you for stopping by, he is very famous and his songs are evergreen.

beingwell from Bangkok on March 28, 2013:

He's a very famous song-writer and singer. Heck, I don't recall his face; but I'm familiar with his songs. Sharing this one.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 27, 2013:

Koffeeklatch Gals thank you for stopping by and yes we lost a great musical artist, a great loss indeed.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on March 27, 2013:

I have always loved John Denver's music. It seems to me that I read somewhere that when he died he was still in love with Annie, even though they were either divorced or having problems. I have no idea if that's all true. We lost a great musical artist the day his plane went down. Up and awesome.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 19, 2013:

DDE thank you for stopping by and reading. John Denver's songs are like dreams that never fade.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 19, 2013:

John Denver was one of the best and reading this Hub made think about his songs too.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 18, 2013:

billybuc yes, he was always happy with life and made sure he spread the happiness!! thank you.

starstream thank you for stopping by, I enjoyed writing about John Denver.

Jackie Lynnley you said it right, heaven is brighter! Am sure he is entertaining everyone in heaven too!! thank you.

Gail Meyers thank you, it was a long time ago but his songs are still around!

Eiddwen thank you for stopping by and reading. Have a great day.

Jools99 thank you am glad you enjoyed this hub and who hasn't done that!!

always exploring thank you and yes as you say he had a down-home voice.

Sunshine625 thank you, his music is awesome and does bring on a smile.

Ruchira that song is my favorite too!! Thank you stopping by.

Ruchira from United States on March 18, 2013:

John Denver was a great inspiration to many singers. I love many of his songs ESP back home again is still hummed by me.

Great informative hub, nithya.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on March 18, 2013:

Very interesting! I had no idea John Denver had a "real" name or what it was. I always liked his music. He sings feel good songs that guarantee a smile to who ever is listening. A fabulous tribute!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 18, 2013:

I really admired John Denver, he had a down-home voice which i loved. Thank you for sharing info. that i was unaware of..

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on March 18, 2013:

You know, I really enjoyed this. I used to listen to JD a lot when I was in school. I had a friend who borrowed his albums from her brother and we used to sing out heads off in her bedroom listening to the songs.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 18, 2013:

Thank you so very much for this beautiful tribute to a wonderfully talented man.


Gail Meyers from Johnson County, Kansas on March 18, 2013:

I have always liked some of John Denver's song, but it has been a long time since I heard any of them. So, thanks for sharing the videos! It was so when he died. I can't believe it was that long ago!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 18, 2013:

I was so shocked and sad the day this man died. He was loved by everyone and his music was for everyone. Our world is a little dimmer without him but I am sure Heaven is brighter. Great write. ^

Dreamer at heart from Northern California on March 18, 2013:

I admired John Denver's ability to touch lives and use his talent to open hearts to our world unity on this beautiful planet. He was so gifted and presented his heart and soul to share the emotions of life. I send prayers to him. Thanks for doing all the research and writing about it.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 18, 2013:

I have always like John Denver. Such a pure, sweet voice, and he always seemed to be happy with life. Thanks for the information.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on March 18, 2013:

Daisy Mariposa thank you, he is so talented and a great human being.

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on March 17, 2013:


I've listened to the music of John Denver throughout the years, but I didn't know very much at all about his life.

Thanks for publishing this well-researched, well-written article.

Related Articles