Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), known professionally as John Denver, was an American musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, actor, and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s. He was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. By 1974, he was firmly established as America's best selling performer, and AllMusic has described Denver as "among the most beloved entertainers of his era". After traveling and living in numerous locations while growing up in his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed, with total record sales of over 33 million.
He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country music, the Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning him twelve gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".
Denver starred in films and several notable television specials in the 1970s and 1980s. He continued to record in the 1990s, also focusing on environmental issues by lending vocal support to space exploration and testifying in front of Congress in protest against censorship in music. He lived in Aspen, Colorado for much of his life and was known for his love of Colorado which he sang about numerous times. In 1974 Denver was named poet laureate of the state. The Colorado state legislature also adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its two state songs in 2007. Denver was an avid pilot and died at the age of 53 in a single-fatality crash of his personal experimental aircraft.