Saturday, October 12, 2013

John Denver ... 1943 - October 12, 1997

"This old guitar gave me my life, my living, all the things you know I love to do. To serenade the stars that shine from a sunny mountainside, but most of all to sing my songs for you ... I love to sing my songs for you."
--"This Old Guitar" by John Denver who died October 12, 1997

On this day in 1997, John Denver died at the age of 53 in a plane crash off the coast of California. A story teller, master guitarist, song writer, and singer, his music still captures the hearts of many as he sings of the mountains and nature and youth and growing old and wheat fields and Colorado and Alaska and all the things we love. 

Even now, when playing my 12-string guitar, the first chords I strum are John Denver's music. He took the ups and downs in his own life and put them into melodic, sometimes hauntingly emotional, choruses that comforted the hurting souls of others ... songs about love lost, then found ... breakups and reconnecting ... children ... old cowboys.

While baring his soul in his music, he had a playful side, too, as he would laugh and tells stories and have a grand old time at his concerts, enjoying the give-and-take with the audience. Just listen to "Home Grown Tomatoes." In his later years, he became more reflective.

John Denver's death stunned the world:
Upon announcement of Denver's death, Colorado governor Roy Romer ordered all state flags to be lowered to half staff in his honor. Denver was cremated with the 1910 Gibson guitar, given to him by his grandmother, that had inspired much of his career. Funeral services were held at Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Colorado on October 17, 1997, being officiated by Pastor Les Felker, a retired Air Force chaplain. Later Denver's ashes were scattered in the Rocky Mountains. Further tributes were made at the following Grammys and Country Music Association Awards.
My sister, who was living in Denver at the time and had used the lyrics to Denver's songs when student teaching during college, attended the memorial service which was a moving tribute to John Denver the musician, the man, the dad, the son. John Denver. His music will live on....

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