While you may remember John Denver for his music career that spanned nearly three decades and his remarkable country-style folk song featuring wholesome and uplifting lyrics that touched the hearts of millions – the singer was way more than that. So, without further ado, we’re sharing with you some facts about John Denver that you may not know yet.
Keep on scrolling and get to know more about Denver below. After all, he’s one of the world’s best-known and most adored performers.
1. He’s a native of Roswell, New Mexico.
John Denver – whose real name is Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. – was born on December 31, 1943, to Henry John “Dutch” Deutschendorf Sr. and Erma Louise.
2. He was an introvert growing up.
Denver’s father was a United States Army Air Forces pilot – which is why his family often moved. Being relentlessly the new kid in town had troubled Denver. As a result, he grew up always feeling like an outcast, turning him into a shy and introverted boy.
3. He lost his two toes.
When Denver was eighteen, he accidentally cut himself in a lawnmower accident that resulted in Denver losing two toes on his right foot. Because of this, Denver wasn’t drafted into the military and was classified as disabled.
Denver was not able to serve any division in the military, putting to rest the undying rumor which said Denver served as a sniper during the Vietnam War.
4. He briefly attended the School of Architecture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
At the same time, Denver performed at local clubs and sang in a folk-music group, The Alpine Trio.
5. He faced plenty of rejections.
This is perhaps one of the facts about John Denver that many fans do not know. When Denver was actually just starting out, he had to deal with various rejections as most music companies found his music to be more in the folk genre – and unfortunately, that was not what they were going after. At that time, rock stars donning long hair and wild outfits dominated the music scene. Denver just did not fit in.
6. He adopted the stage surname Denver in honor of the capital city of his favorite state, Colorado.
In 1964, Denver dropped out of college and relocated to Los Angeles to be in the heart of the growing music scene. He was starting to get big; however, his name, that’s quite a mouthful, was becoming a hindrance. So, with his friends’ encouragement, Denver changed his name.
7. He was passionate about ending hunger around the world.
In 1977, Denver co-founded The Hunger Project, an organization committed to bringing about the end of chronic persistent hunger. Because of Denver’s tireless endeavor and devotion to raising awareness of global hunger problems, he was recognized by various governments. In 1985, he was bestowed with the Presidential World Without Hunger Award.
8. He married twice.
Denver’s first marriage was to Annie Martell – who has been the muse to his second No. 1 hit in the United States, “Annie’s Song,” which he composed as fast as ten minutes while sitting on a ski lift to the top of Aspen Mountain in Aspen, Colorado. The couple adopted a boy, Zachary John, and a girl, Anna Kate.
However, Denver and Martell divorced in 1982. In an interview, Denver said that his career demands drove them apart. In 1988, Denver briefly married actress Cassandra Delaney. They separated in 1991 and were officially divorced two years later. They had a daughter, Jesse Belle.
9. His interests go beyond music.
In addition to music, Denver’s creative interest included painting. But due to his limited schedule, Denver pursued photography instead. In 2014, an exhibit of more than forty never-before-seen photos taken by Denver debuted at Leon Gallery in Denver, Colorado.
10. He also tried acting.
In 1974, Denver made his debut on the small screen with his appearance in The Colorado Cattle Caper episode of the American police drama television series, McCloud.
11. He was an accomplished private pilot.
John Denver’s songs often reflect his love for flying. So, it’s no surprise that he learned to be a pilot and owned several small airplanes that he would often fly around. Eventually, he gained over 2,700 hours of experience.
Unfortunately, on October 12, 1997, Denver flew a recently purchased aircraft with which he was relatively unfamiliar. After a smooth takeoff, he apparently lost control of the aircraft, leading to a fatal crash. His remains were found in the Pacific Ocean near Monterey, California.
Denver lived in Aspen, Colorado, continuously until his death. His ashes were then scattered all over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
Truly, John Denver’s death was a huge loss to the music industry. There never was, and there probably never will be a star quite like him.