John Denver found great fame as an enduring
singer-songwriter in the early 70's and is widely acknowledged
to be one of the true musical superstars of this period and
is ensured a place in the pantheon of the great musicians
and shall be remembered undoubtedly forever as such.
However Denver was a multi-faceted man and not one content
to sit cut off from the world in his mansion counting his
millions, though it should be said that in the course of his
career he did earn himself mansions and many millions. And
once his fame faded, as it always does eventually even for
the most popular and beloved artists, Denver threw himself
into humanitarian and environmental work and spent the 1980's
campaigning for the good of the world's population. And not
because he was a superstar down on his luck to earn a few
kudos or to get their photo in the paper to remind a disinterested
public that they're still alive, but because that was the
kind of man he was. A deeply compassionate and caring man
seemingly unaffected by fame who wanted to put his superstardom
to good use and for the benefit of how many people and organizations
that he could help.
His special passion was the environment, not the fashionable
concern it is now but an issue that only a few took seriously
back in the early 80's when Denver began campaigning on and
for environmental causes.
Amongst the issues he chose to highlight within his environmental
campaigning was the plight of the citizens of Chernobyl after
the infamous 1986 nuclear disaster and the effects it would
have on all our lives through the huge damage it did unto
the Ozone layer and the environment as a whole.
He did this by playing a concert in the town at a time when
to go there was to place yourself in great danger from contamination
and also at a time when most of the rest of the world was
aware of what had happened but not on the environmental impact
it would have on many of our lives.
But John Denver's many interests and passions extended beyond
the bounds of planet earth, with air travel in many of its
forms a lifelong passion for him. Not only did this passion,
inherited from his air-force serving Father, see him become
a fully qualified small aircraft pilot, a love that he pursued
greatly and as often as he could until it tragically cost
him his life in a 1997 crash, but also extended beyond the
earths atmosphere and into outer space.
Indeed so keen was he to take to the skies and get into space
that he trained as an astronaught and was determined to be
the first civilian to reach outer space and indeed on two
occasions in the mid-to-late eighties.
First off he was accepted to go on a space shuttle mission.
But fate intervened on more than one level. Firstly an unrecorded
twist of fate denied him his seat aboard at the last minute,
but his cursing at his ill-fortune was no doubt tempered when
he watched, along with millions of others worldwide, as the
mission he was meant to be on crash back to earth within seconds
of lift-off killing all on-board. For the mission he so nearly
made was the ill-fated Challenger voyage of 1986.
Later he was offered a similar seat on-board the Russian
spaceship Mir, however it would have meant a year away home
and his wife was pregnant with their daughter Jesse Belle
and he didn't want to miss out on the birth, so with great
reluctance he had to turn down their offer.
It is worth noting that such was his standing in so many different
aspects of life that he was the only Westerner ever to be
afforded the honor of being asked.