John Denver died in a tragic plane crash more than 17 years ago, but his music and art is getting a second life this week.
The late singer, famous for his optimistic hits like “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and “Rocky Mountian High,” was honored this weekend with a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His son, Zak Deutschendorf, and daughter, Jesse Belle Denver, attended the event to honor their father.
John Denver was famous for a string of hits in the 1970s, but also worked behind the scenes, writing hits for other groups during his era.
Denver was also known as a conservationist with a deep love for the Rocky Mountains.
“The Rockies always resonated, and he always wanted to live here,” says G. Brown, director of the Colorado Music Hall of Famewho also knew Denver through his work as a music journalist for the Denver Post. “When he got to the mountains he was happy — that’s all there is to it. That summer he camped a lot, and he got back to the things he loved most, the beauty of the land and the quiet of the wilderness, and how precious it was to him. The meteor shower that August was the best meteor shower that John, an amateur astronomer, had ever seen.”
Denver died in 1997 when the private plane he was in crashed over Monterey Bay, California.
The unveiling of Denver’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame coincided with the opening of a Hollywood exhibit called “Sweet Sweet Life: The Photographic Works of John Denver.”
The exhibit had already been on display at the Leon Gallery in Denver. Curators Lindsay Giles McWilliams and Eric Robert Dallimore said Denver’s photography gave viewers a different side of the musician.
“It is a fascinating gift to get to know someone by looking through a lifetime of photographs; to see what was interesting, beautiful and worth remembering. Through curating over 10,000 of John Denver’s personal images, we found that his work not only represents his passionate vision of nature and the outdoors, but also chronicles the emotional beauty of society and individuals all over the world. He was an authentic, wide-eyed wanderer. You don’t see lavish clichés you’d expect from a famous touring musician; you see someone who built a career catered toward exploring life with his loved ones, and finding connections with people and nature in parts of the world that weren’t yet travel destinations. It’s inspiring. We’re excited to share this exhibit not only because this is the work of John Denver, an American icon who positively affected lives and land across the planet, but because at the end of the day he was a talented, dedicated man with a lot of heart. That is what is central to our vision at Leon.”
The John Denver exhibit will be displayed at the Substrate Gallery for the next month.