John Denver wasn't born in Colorado, but he's cleaning up in its halls of fame

It's been a big year for John Denver, fifteen years after the experimental plane he was piloting plunged into the ocean. Last April, the mop-haired troubadour who was born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. in New Mexico in 1943, then changed his name to the capital city of the state he adopted as his own in the late '60s, became one of the first inductees into the brand-new Colorado Music Hall of Fame; the other was the equally unavailable-for-comment Red Rocks. Last month, Denver was one of four people named to the Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame. In touting his contributions, Visit Denver listed several Denver songs that popularized life in Colorado, including "Rocky Mountain High," which in 2007 became one of two official state songs — and definitely the only one that promotes dope-smoking around a campfire. And on the upcoming Record Store Day, on April 21, a series of seven-inch vinyl records with various artists covering Denver songs will be released, including Sea of Bees doing "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

And now John Denver is one of twenty nominees vying for four spots in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame; voting for this year's class is now under way and closes April 15. In proposing him for this honor, fan and fellow musician John Salestrom says that songs Denver wrote like "Down Hill Stuff," "Rocky Mountain High" and "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado" capture the "essence of skiing."

Maybe so, but then the award should be shared with Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, who worked with Denver — and while they invited him to help them finish up "Take Me Home, Country Roads," they're the duo actually credited with writing of "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado." Fortunately, Salestrom's salesmanship isn't limited to those songs; he also points out that "John Denver loved skiing and was very accomplished even with the challenge of lacking a few toes on his left foot."

A lawnmower accident, it turns out. No wonder he was so good at hitting those high notes.

Scene and herd: Just as Colorado has a haul of halls of fame, it has a fleet of special license plates — and soon to have one more, since on Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law a provision for a special Colorado Rockies plate, whose purchase will benefit the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club Foundation. That was one of just seven new plates proposed at the Colorado Legislature this year; there are currently 28 special license plate types, 32 military plate types, 13 alumni plate types and 34 "other" plate types, such as state patrol, taxi, street rod, etc.

And Colorado only ranks 24th in the number of different plate types, according to the Legislative Council.

There are license plates for alumni of Regis University, Western State College, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Denver, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado, Metropolitan State College, the Colorado School of Mines and the Air Force Academy, among others.

Air Force fans can also purchase Air Force Commemorative plates from 28 kinds of special plates, with other categories ranging from Mountain Division to Adopt a Shelter Pet, American Indian Scholars, Alive at 25, Carbon Fund, Craig Hospital, Breast Cancer, Broncos Charities, Girl Scouts, Italian-American, Support the Troops, Support the Horse and Support Education.

So far, though, no Support John Denver for the Next Hall of Fame.

 
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