John Denver at the Troubadour
John Denver with Jerry McClain (of Pratt & McClain, left) backstage at The Troubadour in Los Angeles at the start of his career in the late 1960s. The opening act was “unknown” singer-guitarist James Taylor. On the right are Chuck Stokes and Ken Ballard of the Lively Set group. Photo courtesy of Susanne and Jerry McClain.

John Denver Rocks

John Denver’s lyrics, which are etched on Aspen rocks, are an unusual sight to see when traveling through this beautiful small city. Read about the location here:

Famous as a singer/songwriter and actor, he was also named Colorado’s Poet Laureate. His songs and lyrics calmed the nation during a time of political turmoil during his career that began in the late 1960s and bloomed in the 1970s. Ultimately, he produced 30 albums.

Originally from Roswell, New Mexico, John Denver later lived in Los Angeles and moved to Aspen in 1970. His work eventually branched into acting with leading man roles in feature films, like Oh, God! where he starred with television comedy icon George Burns.

A few of his hit songs included Rocky Mountain High, Country Roads, Annie’s Song (You Fill Up My Senses), and (I’m Just a) Country Boy. They were cross-over songs played on country and pop music radio stations.

John Denver died tragically in an airplane crash in 1997. Ten years later, the State of Colorado named “Rocky Mountain High” its state song.

Also see the Wallace Stevens page for a similar type of tribute located in Connecticut.

Budding Career in Los Angeles

While in Los Angeles, he performed live at a variety of clubs, including The Troubadour (pictured above). Read more about the life and works of John Denver at, where he is quoted: “Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit…”

The photo on this page was provided by Susanne and Jerry McClain, fellow musicians and longtime friends of John Denver. Jerry McClain stands on the far left. Later, Jerry McClain, along with Truett Pratt, gained worldwide renown for recording the theme song for the long-running popular television series Happy Days.

Aspen is the sixth stop on our Colorado Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart