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Steve Christens
10-13-2009, 11:14 AM
Love his music, hate his politics (for some of his lyrics, I just cringe and bear it, instead enjoying the beautiful music). :)

He is one of the reasons that I play guitar.


Agreed. I can't imagine any of us not being fans of his playing. And his music is especially meaningful to my wife and me, since we met and listened to his music back in college (72-76) during the height of John's popularity.

But boy did I get tired of his politics. Long before the Dixie Chicks I felt the "Shut up and sing" phrase could apply to him. I once watched a TV biography of him that traced his fall in popularity to his increasing activism that tended to alienate many fans. Sometimes you just want to listen to music and be entertained, and not worry about saving the whales, sea, or world.

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 11:23 AM
By no small coincidence, these are probably my favorite John Denver albums. Mike Taylor was an excellent guitar player, and I love his lead work on these albums. I wish he had stuck around for more. I have no idea why he did not work with John Denver longer, or whatever happened to him after that. I would sure love to hear some live recordings of Denver/Taylor/Kniss.

I am not sure why Taylor left the band. He then all but vanished. The last time I heard about him was a couple of years ago when Mike and Pete Huttlinger traded lead licks on Late Winter Early Spring at a Denver tribute show in Aspen.

But in 1977 Denver was looking to update his sound so pretty much everyone was let go and he inherited the core members of Elvis' band members (James Burton on guitar, Glen D. Hardin on piano, and Emory Gordy Jr. on bass) when Elvis died that year.

Dick Kniss returned to play with a reunited Peter, Paul & Mary in 78.

I would love to see some live shows from those early days too. The first few years of his live solo concerts before he hit it really big consisted of himself with Taylor and Kniss.

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 11:26 AM
Agreed. I can't imagine any of us not being fans of his playing. And his music is especially meaningful to my wife and me, since we met and listened to his music back in college (72-76) during the height of John's popularity.

But boy did I get tired of his politics. Long before the Dixie Chicks I felt the "Shut up and sing" phrase could apply to him. I once watched a TV biography of him that traced his fall in popularity to his increasing activism that tended to alienate many fans. Sometimes you just want to listen to music and be entertained, and not worry about saving the whales, sea, or world.

By the mid to late 80s he did receive a huge backlash to speaking his mind politically and as the 90s began I saw very little of his politics at his concerts.

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 11:35 AM
Love his music, hate his politics (for some of his lyrics, I just cringe and bear it, instead enjoying the beautiful music). :)

He is one of the reasons that I play guitar.

In the years since Denver's death I have really become a big fan of Gordon Lightfoot's music. I have come to the belief that John wrote some of the best melodies ever but his lyrics were often very straight forward. I believe that Gordon Lightfoot wrote more creative, descriptive and poetry based lyrics but his melodies are not as good as Denver's.

I will be 46 next week and as I have gotten older I realized that even the ballads John wrote often require a person to belt it out to some level, while Gordon's songs are a bit softer and much easier to sing.

After playing a lot of Denver's music for 27 years I find I am way behind in learning to play Gordon's music. I swear I could do a whole concert going back and forth between the two.

pickoid_1
10-13-2009, 11:38 AM
I am not sure why Taylor left the band. He then all but vanished. The last time I heard about him was a couple of years ago when Mike and Pete Huttlinger traded lead licks on Late Winter Early Spring at a Denver tribute show in Aspen.

But in 1977 Denver was looking to update his sound so pretty much everyone was let go and he inherited the core members of Elvis' band members (James Burton on guitar, Glen D. Hardin on piano, and Emory Gordy Jr. on bass) when Elvis died that year.

Dick Kniss returned to play with a reunited Peter, Paul & Mary in 78.

I would love to see some live shows from those early days too. The first few years of his live solo concerts before he hit it really big consisted of himself with Taylor and Kniss.

Yes, I am not a fan of the "Elvis band" era that started in the late 70's. As much respect as I have for James Burton as a guitar player, I was not a fan of his playing with John Denver. To me, it just didn't seem to fit. Plus there was all of that Jim Horn woodwind and brass nonsense... I realize that these people are some of the best and most respected musicians ever. But give me the old "folky" sound any day. Only occasionally on his later albums did he hearken back to his earlier sound.

pickoid_1
10-13-2009, 11:41 AM
In the years since Denver's death I have really become a big fan of Gordon Lightfoot's music. I have come to the belief that John wrote some of the best melodies ever but his lyrics were often very straight forward. I believe that Gordon Lightfoot wrote more creative, descriptive and poetry based lyrics but his melodies are not as good as Denver's.

I will be 46 next week and as I have gotten older I realized that even the ballads John wrote often require a person to belt it out to some level, while Gordon's songs are a bit softer and much easier to sing.

After playing a lot of Denver's music for 27 years I find I am way behind in learning to play Gordon's music. I swear I could do a whole concert going back and forth between the two.

Geez Andromeda - I agree with you 100%. That must mean you're really smart! :D

Seriously, that is an insightful analysis of the difference between Denver and Lightfoot. Also my two favorite songwriters.

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 11:45 AM
Yes, I am not a fan of the "Elvis band" era that started in the late 70's. As much respect as I have for James Burton as a guitar player, I was not a fan of his playing with John Denver. To me, it just didn't seem to fit. Plus there was all of that Jim Horn woodwind and brass nonsense... I realize that these people are some of the best and most respected musicians ever. But give me the old "folky" sound any day. Only occasionally on his later albums did he hearken back to his earlier sound.

I am right with you!!! I too respect Burton's playing but with his electric guitar and Jim Horn's sax it was not a good fit at all. The only album I like with that lineup (although Horn wasn't with them at the time) was the I Want to Live album. His 1980s albums have great songs that are buried under too much production. Give me that old folky sound any day.

I was so happy to see in the early 90s that he went back to a more acoustic line up with Pete Huttlinger on guitar.

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 11:46 AM
Geez Andromeda - I agree with you 100%. That must mean you're really smart! :D

Seriously, that is an insightful analysis of the difference between Denver and Lightfoot. Also my two favorite songwriters.

Great minds do think alike! :)

Michael K
10-13-2009, 12:35 PM
I really liked his version of Darcy Farrow, not to mention some of his other songs, like, umm was it Mulenberg County? Can't remember.


Tom

Your thinking of "Paradise" its a John Prine song that John Denver covered. I love that song.

redsky49
10-13-2009, 04:11 PM
I first saw him in person at the Cellar Door in DC when he had just joined the Chad Mitchell Trio. Took him a while to fit in, and it was clear that he would be a better solo performer.

Someone above mentioned Taffy Nivert. I had a huge crush on her (d*** you Bill Danoff). There was a hot folk scene in DC during the 60's and I recall getting paid six dollars, if I recall correctly, one night at a gig with Taffy, Donal Leace and maybe Mama Cass (pre-Mugwumps), as well as several others.

John Denver had a reputation (somewhat deservedly) of being sorta corny, but I think he managed to touch a lot of people. I miss him.

L20A
10-13-2009, 07:45 PM
I also felt that John "sold out" when he got the new band.
I didn't buy much of his stuff then.
It wasn't acoustic any more.
I now have almost all of his albums though.

John's TV shows were very corny.
I don't know if it was his choice though.
This was the image that others wanted for him.

When John got out from under RCA, his music once again flourished.
He was able to do what he wanted and not what the producers insisted he do.

My interest in music was also very much influenced by Gordon Lightfoot.
For some reason, these two artists just blended or complimented each other.

Perhaps it was because they both were primarily acoustic players.
Both played great 12 string songs.

OK, it's time to turn off the computer and play some 12 string!

Andromeda
10-13-2009, 07:51 PM
I also felt that John "sold out" when he got the new band.
I didn't buy much of his stuff then.
It wasn't acoustic any more.
I now have almost all of his albums though.

John's TV shows were very corny.
I don't know if it was his choice though.
This was the image that others wanted for him.

When John got out from under RCA, his music once again flourished.
He was able to do what he wanted and not what the producers insisted he do.

My interest in music was also very much influenced by Gordon Lightfoot.
For some reason, these two artists just blended or complimented each other.

Perhaps it was because they both were primarily acoustic players.
Both played great 12 string songs.

OK, it's time to turn off the computer and play some 12 string!

From what I have heard from people that knew John and from what I have read his corny image of the 70s which did endear him to many was manufactured by his then manager Jerry Wientraub. After he had a big falling out with him in the early 80s he did a lot to change that image. He lost the glasses and cut his hair and became more serious.

Oetomoepi
10-13-2009, 08:15 PM
I started with classical guitar, then I heard John Denver, this was in the 70s.
His finger picking style was so fascinating, that I became obsessed in trying to learn his stuffs. I must have worn out more than a few cassette tapes of his albums in trying to figure out how to play "follow me", and at the end, I was still not close to getting it.
Through the years though as my playing improved, I began to play his songs like, "This old guitar", "Country Road", "For Baby", "Sunshine On My Shoulder", "I am Sorry"....... half way decent. Some parts of his lyrics went over my head as my youth was spent in Indonesia. Anyway as fate would have it, I ended up doing my study in Colorado at Fort Collins for close to 5 years. That was then when some of those things that he said in his lyrics began to make sense. Dan Fogelberg is another one of my favourite singer/song writer.
I have since moved on to play more jazz and instrumental stuffs, but I still keep some of his albums and Dan's too.
RIP John and Dan.

lpa53
10-13-2009, 08:25 PM
After learning guitar playing Dylan and Peter Paul and Mary tunes, I got into "rock" in high school in the late 60s. In the early 70s, however, my sister introduced to to this new guy, John Denver, and that returned me to acoustic music. I saw him play outside of Detroit - just him, Dick Kniss, and Mike Taylor - the year before Rocky Mountain High hit the charts. It was so relaxed and loose, he played frisbee with the audience before he started. the next year he had a huge band and orchestra behind him! Still good though. And I just saw Michael Johnson, who played with him in the Chad Mitchell Trio, a few months ago - see him if you get the chance! The performers in all those groups were consumate musicians with great stage presence.

Bodhi
10-14-2009, 07:02 PM
I am not sure why Taylor left the band. He then all but vanished. The last time I heard about him was a couple of years ago when Mike and Pete Huttlinger traded lead licks on Late Winter Early Spring at a Denver tribute show in Aspen.

But in 1977 Denver was looking to update his sound so pretty much everyone was let go and he inherited the core members of Elvis' band members (James Burton on guitar, Glen D. Hardin on piano, and Emory Gordy Jr. on bass) when Elvis died that year.

Dick Kniss returned to play with a reunited Peter, Paul & Mary in 78.

I would love to see some live shows from those early days too. The first few years of his live solo concerts before he hit it really big consisted of himself with Taylor and Kniss.

Mike Taylor is now the Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust: http://www.scbattlegrounds.org/contact.htm. He is also a Research Fellow at the University of South Carolina, an archaeologist and historian. He co-founded the Southeastern Ecological Institute and was its Executive Director. Quite a change from working with JD!

marty bradbury
10-14-2009, 07:46 PM
I saw a special on PBS one night where he was with a couple of friends who lived in a cabin in remote Alaska. Actually he wrote a song about them while he was there, wow what a talent and voice and person indeed. It was a great bio, anyoneelse see this?

Glennwillow
10-14-2009, 08:35 PM
I'm pretty sure I saw this show, too, Marty. It was very engaging...

Hope you and your family are all well,
Glenn

Andromeda
10-14-2009, 09:11 PM
Mike Taylor is now the Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust: http://www.scbattlegrounds.org/contact.htm. He is also a Research Fellow at the University of South Carolina, an archaeologist and historian. He co-founded the Southeastern Ecological Institute and was its Executive Director. Quite a change from working with JD!

I had heard he was teaching at a University but that was about it. Thanks for the updated information and the link!! :)

sunvalleylaw
10-14-2009, 11:54 PM
Sure! I was just a kid, but I sure loved his early Christmas shows and one or two of his were among my first record albums.

L20A
10-15-2009, 06:45 AM
I saw a special on PBS one night where he was with a couple of friends who lived in a cabin in remote Alaska. Actually he wrote a song about them while he was there, wow what a talent and voice and person indeed. It was a great bio, anyoneelse see this?

I think that you are talking about the couple that in John's eyes, were the best Alaska conservationists ever.
Their names were Mardy and Oliff Murie.
The song was, "I see them dancing".

Andromeda
10-15-2009, 07:31 AM
I think that you are talking about the couple that in John's eyes, were the best Alaska conservationists ever.
Their names were Mardy and Oliff Murie.
The song was, "I see them dancing".


Actually, the song is titled "A Song for All Lovers." Mardy's husband was actually named Olaus Murie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardy_Murie

L20A
10-15-2009, 08:51 AM
Actually, the song is titled "A Song for All Lovers." Mardy's husband was actually named Olaus Murie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mardy_Murie

And now you have the rest of the story.
Thanks,
L20A.

Andromeda
10-15-2009, 03:24 PM
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/mikeandpetelg.jpg

Pete & Mike Taylor playing Late Winter, Early Spring (When Everybody Goes To Mexico) in Pete's hotel room.

This was the first time Mike had played the tune with another
guitarist since recording it with John Denver on the Rocky Mountain
High record. We performed it that night and Mike played beautifully
and received a standing ovation for his performance!
Aspen, Colorado
October 2005

Troisnoir
10-15-2009, 05:09 PM
I'm a huge JD fan, so please no flame mail!

But I'm also a fan of this JD "tribute" of sorts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxTbTcDJvuM

Haven't waded through all the posts here yet, so sorry if it was already posted (probably not, though :lol:

L20A
10-16-2009, 06:37 AM
http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/mikeandpetelg.jpg

Pete & Mike Taylor playing Late Winter, Early Spring (When Everybody Goes To Mexico) in Pete's hotel room.

This was the first time Mike had played the tune with another
guitarist since recording it with John Denver on the Rocky Mountain
High record. We performed it that night and Mike played beautifully
and received a standing ovation for his performance!
Aspen, Colorado
October 2005

Bill, it looks like you were in Aspen in 2005.
I was there in 04. 06 and 07.
Did you attend any of these gatherings?
Dale.

pickoid_1
10-16-2009, 06:57 AM
I got my new John Denver concert DVDs in from Amazon.com, and watched the 1977 Australia show last night. It's an "Elvis band" show - James Burton, Emory Gordy Jr., Glen D. Hardin, Hal Blaine, Herb Pedersen, Lee Holdridge conducting the orchestra, and assorted other background singers and instrumentalists. At first I was put off by it (particularly by Mr. Burton's intrusive dobro playing), but by a few songs in I was really enjoying it.

Denver had 5 guitars on stage, and they were all magnificent instruments. He had a custom Guild rosewood 12-string jumbo with tons of inlay (tree of life on the fretboard, inlaid bridge, and 45-style edging). He also had a Mossman 12-string dread with 45 style edging. He had two Mossman 6-string dreads, one of which he never played, so I didn't get a really close look at it. It looked pretty plain on the guitar stand. The other Mossman was used for a few numbers, and it had an incredibly ornate tree of life inlay on the fretboard - even fancier than the Guild. The headstock inlays on that one reminded me of the banjo-influenced style you see on Blueridges. The main 6-string he used was one of his familiar Yamaha L-53s - again, just about the most shellfish-encrusted guitar imaginable. He was using magnetic soundhole pickups in all the guitars, which was unfortunate. Not a very good acoustic sound.

The whole thing was a bit bloated - more glitz than I would have liked. But he sang great, and there were some excellent moments. It seems like this was the complete concert - 27 songs, right at 2 hours. The sound guy had some problems getting the mics turned up for some instrumental solos, and the sound was pretty bad for the first couple of songs. Still, I quite enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the concerts in the set. Next up - Japan, 1981.

BTW, the packaging on this DVD set is very nice - much better than I was expecting. The graphic design of the package is excellent, and it comes with a pretty nice booklet, too. The cardboard is a little flimsy, but that's the way things are nowadays.

banjar
10-16-2009, 07:08 AM
I was a closet JD fan. It wasnt cool to like him among my friends. I also prefer the folky sound to his overproduced later stuff, but I'm probably a closet fan even of some of that.

Andromeda
10-16-2009, 07:56 AM
I got my new John Denver concert DVDs in from Amazon.com, and watched the 1977 Australia show last night. It's an "Elvis band" show - James Burton, Emory Gordy Jr., Glen D. Hardin, Hal Blaine, Herb Pedersen, Lee Holdridge conducting the orchestra, and assorted other background singers and instrumentalists. At first I was put off by it (particularly by Mr. Burton's intrusive dobro playing), but by a few songs in I was really enjoying it.

Denver had 5 guitars on stage, and they were all magnificent instruments. He had a custom Guild rosewood 12-string jumbo with tons of inlay (tree of life on the fretboard, inlaid bridge, and 45-style edging). He also had a Mossman 12-string dread with 45 style edging. He had two Mossman 6-string dreads, one of which he never played, so I didn't get a really close look at it. It looked pretty plain on the guitar stand. The other Mossman was used for a few numbers, and it had an incredibly ornate tree of life inlay on the fretboard - even fancier than the Guild. The headstock inlays on that one reminded me of the banjo-influenced style you see on Blueridges. The main 6-string he used was one of his familiar Yamaha L-53s - again, just about the most shellfish-encrusted guitar imaginable. He was using magnetic soundhole pickups in all the guitars, which was unfortunate. Not a very good acoustic sound.

The whole thing was a bit bloated - more glitz than I would have liked. But he sang great, and there were some excellent moments. It seems like this was the complete concert - 27 songs, right at 2 hours. The sound guy had some problems getting the mics turned up for some instrumental solos, and the sound was pretty bad for the first couple of songs. Still, I quite enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the concerts in the set. Next up - Japan, 1981.

BTW, the packaging on this DVD set is very nice - much better than I was expecting. The graphic design of the package is excellent, and it comes with a pretty nice booklet, too. The cardboard is a little flimsy, but that's the way things are nowadays.


In have had a bootleg DVD of that concert for years and this new one is not complete there were 30 songs played in all and even the order has changed. But all in all I think I will like the remastered and cleaned up version than the grainy quality of my bootleg.

Here is a copy of the set list for the original concert.

http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/con1.png

A note of warning about the 1986 England DVD. John was sick that night and preformed anyway. At times his voice cracks and on a few songs he does sound hoarse but over all he still delivered a great show.

SingerMCL
12-20-2009, 05:48 PM
Hi everybody.

I'm new to this forum and I realize I'm about 2 motnhs late jumping into this pool, but with so many John Denver fans and so many JD questions floating around, I thought I'd throw my hat in.

I'm a singer and songwriter (www.marccoreylee.com) and I had the opportunity of meeting John Denver in several contexts and of interacting with some of his musicians on different occasions. I thought maybe I could provide a little more "meat" to what has been said here. ANDROMEDA seems to be a particularly knowledgable JD aficionado, so I thought he would, perhaps, enjoy some of this.

I was signed as a Fender/Guild artist in 1998 by Del Breckenfled and Alex Perez (now head of Fender Custom Shop). We (I have a band I tour with) had enjoyed some success on the country charts both here and abroad and I pursued the Guild endorsement being a longtime fan of Guild guitars- especially the jumbos. Through the endorsement, I toured the Guild factory in Westerly with the wonderful, classy and knowledgable, Will Fritscher (Plant Manager at Westerly)- but that's a different subject.

Coincidentally and probably ironically, I'm also a pilot and have been since I soloed at 16 years old back in the late 70's. In any case, between touring, flying, Guild and my own pursuits, I was fortunate to meet John several times and- more fascinating in my mind- his musicians.

Mike Taylor is an unbelievable acoustic guitarist that played with John from late '69 to 1972. John met him at the Cellar Door- a club in Washington DC. Today- as a few here have pointed out- he is an anthropologist and professor at University of South Carolina. I had occasion to speak directly to Taylor, who had agreed to perform on my last CD. Ultimately, the producer didn't want acoustic lead guitar and we ended up not using him. However, I did ask Taylor about his years with JD and his reason for leaving. "I just wanted to go back to school." He got tired of performing and traveling and decided he wanted to pursue advanced degrees. From speaking with Taylor, there was no animosity towards Denver. He had simply tired of the industry. Incidentally, I was put in contact with Taylor through Kris O'Connor, Denver's longtime friend and road manager.

We played many dates with country star Dwight Yoakam. Dwight's Road Manager is Steve Voudouris. You may recognize that name as Denver's Production Manager for decades. I had the privilege of talking with Steve for hours and hours about his years with Denver. He said he had never seen audiences react like they did with John Denver. Even after a huge show I opened for Dwight at The Fillmore in San Francisco, Voudouris said it paled in comparison with the reactions John Denver got at his concerts. Having seen JD myself a dozen times, I can attest it was pretty awe-inspiring. Voudouris has road managed for the biggest acts in show business.

I was backstage for several John Denver concerts in '78. I actually conned my way in using fake "RCA" credentials (Those were the 70's). In addition to meeting John, I got to peruse all his guitars. That was his Ovation Adamas period- a guitar I can't stand. I absolutely hate them. Though Denver was enamored with them and everybody else hated them as well. Big blue atrocities if you ask me. Hal Blaine was still with Denver (Blaine's last year)

There were huge boxes of D'Addario light gauge strings around, and all guitars were re-strung by Steve before every show. Personally- as great a player as James Burton is- I thought he clashed with Denver. I didn't care for Glen Hardin or Emory Gordy Jr either. Jim Horn too- nothing good to contribute to Denver's music, in my opinion. Case in point: doubling the guitar intro to Poems, Prayers and Promises with the flute (!?) All these guys were recruited from Elvis' band by Denver during what some called a "mid-career crisis." Musically, everything post '77 was a watershed in my opinion. Though I agree Denver's voice took on a more "operatic" quality, it didn't have the elasticity or presence of his earlier records. That is neither here nor there, just an opinion.

Anyway, meeting him was great and he was a genuinely nice guy. I remember him drinking as lot even then (always had a Heineken in his hand). I met him in an aviation context a few times (he owned a biplane like mine) and in various flying circles, and in Aspen. He was always gracious.

In any case, there is much more than I can put here for the sake of brevity. But if I can ever contribute anything to a JD discussion, I'll try.

Nice meeting all of you.

Regards,
Marc Corey Lee

Guild JF-30
Guild JF-30-12 (custom built- black)
Guild JF-55
Guild F-50
Guild F212

Tony Burns
12-20-2009, 06:25 PM
i dont share this very often - but back in 78-79 I was looking to have a hand made guitar and a friend of mine told me about a luthier in Nashville Indiana whom he was discussing being an apprentice with -that never materialized for my friend , but i visited that luthier that summer and i was very impressed with his work and commisioned my Jumbo whyte lady with John Greven , who was building for John Denver two guitars . a smaller prairie state ( I belive that was the model ) and a large jumbo 12 string .both of which i had the opportunity to hold and spend some time with ( neither was complete at the time ) but i have pictures of my Dad holding the smaller guitar .The wood i picked out for the guitar was the matching wood for John Denvers guitar -Back and sides as well as the neck wood - . a flaw i have on my right side of the neck was on John's left side of his neck ( side by side pieces on the tree ) I didnt think much of this at the time because I picked out the wood because it was beautiful not because it was matching wood to John Denvers . Ive been dying to post pictures of that guitar for sometime now -maybe this will push me to do it -