By the time 1997 rolled around, John Denver had become one of the most well-known singer/songwriters the country and folk world had ever seen. He was even inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame the year before, in 1996.
With jams like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” we’re talking about world class sing-along songs, ones that have stood the test of time.
I mean, walk into a bar right now and throw a little John Denver on the jukebox… you’ll have that whole place singing in no time. And who hasn’t sang a little karaoke to at least one of those songs?
“Country Roads” has even inspired a number of spin-off songs, if you will, including Charles Wesley Godwin’s “Cue Country Roads,” that crappy song from Kane Brown and Restless Road, and even some international success.
The man did however have a bit of an edge to him, as one thing he loved to do was fly planes. Denver was quite the experienced pilot, with over 2,700 hours of flying under his belt.
However, several drunk driving incidents has resulted in the FAA revoking his pilot’s license, and at the time of this death, although there were no drugs or alcohol in his system, he wasn’t technically allowed to be flying.
He boarded his plane as the only passenger on this date back in 1997, leaving on a personal flight from the Monterey Peninsula at 5:12 PM. However, the custom-built plane had a weird fuel setup, and John ultimately crashed because he couldn’t easily switch tanks mid-flight.
The fuel gauge was also places in a position where the pilot couldn’t see it. I don’t know who built the plane, but seems like a fuel gauge would be an import visual for any pilot. He ultimately lost control of the plane attempting to switch fuel tanks and crashed into Monterey Bay, in Pacific Gardens, California.
John tragically passed away at the age of 53.
Pour a few for a legend today… here’s to the great John Denver.