Thursday, June 21, 2012

John Denver--Rocky Mountain High (1972)

     Every so often there is an opportunity to interject some of my childhood in these blogs, and this one has been sitting there for a long time. When a teenager I had a major admiration for John Denver. His voice could be a bit whiny, but his early days as a folkie and his commitment to ecological and conservation concerns was a cause that became one of mine as well.
     The "country boy" persona of the mid-70's was a bit tiring, maybe because for a 4 year stretch, the country got a bit of JD saturation. You couldn't turn on a radio, or watch a TV without hearing or seeing him. He was even a movie with George Burns!
     Although he had his first major hit with "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in 1971, it was "Rocky Mountain High" in late 1972/early 1973 that became his calling card. (Maybe because he was always more of a Denver guy, then he was a West Virginia dude...)
    Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born in Roswell, New Mexico but with his dad being an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel they moved quite often. The relationship between father and son were strained during those years as John even took the family car and ran away to California while still in high school.
     Several years later, he had moved to Los Angeles for good and began singing in the folk clubs. He was recruited to sing in the Mitchell Trio in 1965, then Denver, Bosie, and Johnson. During this time he wrote the song that would eventually give him the ability to start a solo career. In 1967 he recorded a demo which had a song on it called, "Babe, I Hate to Go". The manager for The Mitchell Trio forwarded the demo to Peter, Paul, and Mary who changed the name, "Leaving On a Jet Plane", which became their last top 10 hit in 1969.
    Denver's career was in fits and starts for several years having a big hit ("Country Roads", "Rocky Mountain High") then a time where other songs would languish away on the charts. By 1974, he had the twin number one hits, "Sunshine On My Shoulders", and "Annie's Song" which is where his career took off. 



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