John Denver was one of the most important musical figures of the 1970s. The “Leaving on a Jet Plane” singer may have died in 1997, but he is anything but forgotten. Though Denver spent a considerable portion of his career in the spotlight, there are still some things about him that many people don’t know. With that in mind, here we present our list of 15 things you probably didn’t know about John Denver. Check out part one below, and stay tuned for part two, coming soon!
Number Fifteen: He Was Rejected by Multiple Record Companies. Early on his career, Denver faced a whole lot of rejection. Record companies thought his sound was too folksy for the time, and some even thought that folk was over. Thankfully, he was eventually signed by Harry Jenkins at RCA.
Number Fourteen: “Calypso” Is About His Celebrity Friend. Denver wrote “Calypso” about Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his work on his ship, which was called the Calypso. Denver met Cousteau on a television special, and the two subsequently became very close. Interestingly, Denver and Cousteau died within months of each other.
Number Thirteen: His CMA Winner’s Slip Was Set on Fire. Denver was nominated for Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Awards in 1975. His award was to be presented by Charlie Rich, and before Charlie Rich announced Denver as the winner, he pulled out a lighter and set the slip on fire. Rich was later blacklisted from any future CMA shows, and many people thought it was a protest against the pop crossover country music was experiencing at the time.
Number Twelve: He Could Have Been the Lead in An Officer and a Gentleman. According to him, anyway. Denver revealed in a 1995 interview that he was offered the role of Zack Mayo, but he passed.
Number Eleven: He Is Honored by Colorado. Denver spent much of his life in Aspen, Colorado. In 1974, Denver became the state of Colorado’s poet laureate. He was also the first person inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.
Number Ten: He Started Using Denver as a Stage Name in 1964. Denver’s birth name was John Deutschendorf, Jr., which doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue. He started using the moniker John Denver in 1964.
Number Nine: He Had Eight Toes. That’s right! Two of Denver’s toes were cut off in a lawnmower accident.