A well-watered tree sends its limbs skyward in many directions. So it is with the unique career of John Denver, nurtured first as songwriter and building on this musical base, branching out later as performer, actor and particularly as humanitarian and philanthropist.
Henry John Deutschendorf was a familiar figure during the mid sixties as a performer in Los Angeles folk clubs. In this earlier day, he took his performing name from the city just east of the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and the capitol of the state he calls home.
With his new name established, a second major milestone came when John Denver won out over 250 other applicants for a job as lead singer for The Chad Mitchell Trio, a popular west coast folk group. He was a member in good standing for two years and through this association, made the acquaintance of another folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, who discovered Denver's song, "Leavin' On a Jet Plane." It became their very first number one hit, and a highway to mass appeal.
Within months, Denver began his own journey up the best-selling record charts, with a myriad of major hits, virtually all of which have entered the ranks of the most popular of all standards. "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine On My Shoulders," "Annie's Song," "Back Home Again," "Calypso" and "Thank God I'm A Country Boy," were all on the list, contributing to the nation's entertainment as well as to a growing appreciation and concern for the environment.
In terms of record sales, he ranks at the top of the heap with 14…