Reference Entry

Denver, John

Stacey Hamilton

in American National Biography Online


Published online June 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.1803495

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  • Composition
  • Social and Cultural History
  • Conservation of the Environment (Social Science)
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Denver, John (31 December 1943–12 October 1997), singer, songwriter, and environmental activist, was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., in Roswell, New Mexico, the son of Henry John “Dutch” Deutschendorf, an air force pilot, and Erma Swope Deutschendorf. Dutch Deutschendorf's military career forced the family to move often, and John grew up a shy, self-conscious loner with few friends. He began taking guitar lessons when he was eleven, and in high school he used his natural talent for playing and singing to gain popularity. From 1961 to 1964 he studied architecture at Texas Tech University, but he quit school in his junior year and moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to devote himself full time to a music career. Taking the name “John Denver,” he began playing at small folk clubs in the area with some success. He became a member of the “Backporch Majority,” which played on the back porch of Ledbetter's, a club owned by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group. But folk music was in transition at this time, as electric guitars and drums were more often being used, much to the dismay of traditionalists....

Reference Entry.  1344 words. 

Subjects: Composition ; Social and Cultural History ; Conservation of the Environment (Social Science) ; Voice

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