The fact that John Denver will be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame this April should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with his music. The only surprise is that the organization isn't named for Denver, who is synonymous with Colorado -- and its Rocky Mountains -- worldwide. And for good reason. He is arguably the most famous, most talented and most controversial musician to have ever called Colorado home. (He may have been born in New Mexico as Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., but he gets points for changing his name to Denver). If you grew up here in the 1970s, '80s, or '90s, there's a good chance you listened to, and connected with, "Rocky Mountain High," "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," "Leaving on Jet Plane," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Annie's Song," "Take Me Home Country Roads," and all the others on road trips with your parents or even on your own.
So don't deny the truth: you know most of the words by heart.
And although the golden-voiced folk singer died on October, 12, 1997 when the experimental plane he was flying ran out of gas and crashed into California's Monterrey Bay, his music lives on on fundraising telethons, on stage, at weddings, at professional sports games, on YouTube, in your vinyl or cassette tape collection and as one of two Colorado state songs ("Rocky Mountain High").
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Denver will be officially inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame on April 21 (the day before Earth Day) during a benefit concert hosted by none other than fellow '70s superstar Olivia Newton-John, who will perform along with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Lee Ann Womack, John Oates and others. Denver's former band members will also perform some of his hits. Tickets for the concert -- at the 1STBANK Center -- went on sale today.
Later in his career, Denver -- a longtime Aspen resident -- was a noted environmental activist, and proceeds from this concert will benefit the Cousteau Society, the Windstar Foundation and the University of Colorado School of Music.