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Professionally known worldwide as John Denver, his actual name was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. Born on December 31, 1943 to a military family in Roswell, New Mexico, John Denver’s father was Lt. Col. Henry John Deutschendorf Sr, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel of German ancestry and mother was Erma Louise Swope.
John Denver’s early years was spent constantly on the move due to the nature of his father’s job making it difficult for Denver to make new friends.
When John Denver was eleven, his grandmother gave him an acoustic guitar which he pretty soon learned to play. By the time he was in college, he has mastered the instrument well enough to perform at local clubs. He eventually changed his name to Denver because his real name was too long to fit comfortably on a marquee.
After college and while studying in Texas Tech University in Lubbock, John Denver sang in a folk-music group called “The Alpine Trio”. He dropped out in 1963 and moved to Los Angeles where he started singing folk clubs as a member of another folk group called Chad Mitchell Trio.
John Denver went solo in 1969 with RCA Records releasing his first album, Rhymes & Reasons. The massive hit, “Leaving on A Jet Plane” performed then by Peter, Paul and Mary was originally a song by John Denver titled, “Babe I Hate to Go” and later re-named. The version by Peter, Paul And Mary hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
John Denver’s career peaked in 1971 with the release of his album, Poems, Prayers, and Promises which included the single “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. The song went to No.2 on the Billboard charts.
Throughout his career and his life, John Denver went on to record and release nearly 300 songs, of which 200 are his own compositions. Apart from singing and composing, Denver also starred films and several notable television specials in the 1970s and 1980s.
John Denver died on October 12, 1997 at the age of 53 while flying his personal aircraft.