There is a popular 1960s and 1970s performer who did not always get respect.
John Denver, or Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., would have been 73 this December. He was a singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian. His clean-cut image was the opposite of our many rock bands of the time. But his songs made us aware of the beauty of our environment.
He started his career as a folk singer with the Mitchell Trio in 1965 and then became a solo act in 1969. He was the songwriter for Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” that became a number one hit in December 1969:
He also became a friend to explorer Jacques Cousteau and donated all of the revenue from his song, “Calypso,” to Cousteau’s work.
Although he had worked on the issue of world hunger, and traveled to Africa before other stars, when he asked to participate in the “We Are the World” production, he was turned down. Some of the production team thought his image would hurt the credibility of the song.
Denver died in 1997 piloting his own an experimental airplane. The plane crashed in Monterey Bay. He was 53 years old.