SINGER-SONGWRITER, ACTOR, HUMANITARIAN, ENVIRONMENTALIST
Born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. on December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico, John Denver was an Air Force brat and an overseas school alumnus. His father, Lt Col John “Dutch” Deutschendorf, was a US Air Force pilot who set three international speed records in the B-58 Hustler in 1961.
Denver attended Yokota Elementary School at the Yokota housing annex of Johnson AB from kindergarten through 2nd grade. He graduated from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth Texas in 1961 while his father was stationed at Carswell AFB.
Many consider his 1969 composition “Leaving On A Jet Plane” a number one hit as performed by the group Peter, Paul and Mary, to be the anthem for generations of military brats. Less than two years later, Denver was himself zooming up the Pop charts with “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine On My Shoulders” and “Annie’s Song.”
Denver’s popularity could be seen in record sales that few other artists have achieved, including 14 gold albums and 8 platinum albums in the U.S. alone. This did not include his many gold and platinum sales overseas. In the terms of record sales, John Denver was one of the top five recording artists in the sales history of the music industry. In 1992 Denver became the first Western musician to tour China.
Later in his career, Denver recorded less frequently and devoted most of his time to environmental causes. He founded the non-profit environmental research and education center known as the Windstar Foundation in 1976. Additionally, he contributed much time and effort to groups such as The World Wildlife Federation and Friends of the Earth. During the1980s Denver took a leading role in the fight against world hunger after visiting Africa during the height of the famine to raise awareness of the issue.
Denver was an enthusiastic amateur pilot and proponent of space exploration.
Denver was killed at age 53, when on October 12, 1997, the light plane he was piloting crashed into Monterey Bay in California.
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