Rhymes & Reasons: The Music of John Denver

The GRAMMY Museum is pleased to celebrate the life of GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter, actor, activist, and humanitarian John Denver with the opening of a new exhibit titled Rhymes & Reasons: The Music of John Denver on Jan. 26, 2017. Located on the Museum's fourth floor, the exhibit will chronicle Denver’s life, philanthropy and creative inspirations through unique artifacts from the private collection of the John Denver estate. 

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  • Jan 26, 2017 Through Jul 30, 2017
  • M-F: 10:30AM - 6:30PM
    S-S: 10:00AM - 6:30PM

John Denver is one of the most beloved voices in American music who truly used his platform as an acclaimed musician for the greater good. Not only an award-winning singer/songwriter, he was an actor, an environmentalist, a philanthropist, and a humanitarian. We look forward to paying tribute to his life and career here in Los Angeles — a place Denver once called home.

- Nwaka Onwusa, GRAMMY Museum Curator

On view through July 30, 2017, this special exhibit will feature items such as:

  • Custom-designed stage costumes worn by Denver
  • The tuxedo he wore to host the 22nd Annual GRAMMY Awards® in 1979
  • His round vintage “granny glasses”
  • Handwritten lyrics for his folk classic “Calypso”
  • Guitars played by Denver
  • Photographs from his archive
  • Denver's GRAMMY that he was awarded posthumously for 1997 for Best Musical Album for Children for All Aboard!
  • And other artifacts

About John Denver

John Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. on December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. The son of a U.S. Air Force officer, Denver's artistic journey began at age 11 when he was given his grandmother's guitar. Denver eventually took guitar lessons and joined a boys' choir, which led him at age 20 to pursue his dream of a career in music. 

Denver experienced his first major break in the music industry when he was chosen from 250 other hopefuls as lead singer for the popular Mitchell Trio. Two years and three albums later, Denver had honed his considerable vocal talent and developed his own songwriting style. He gained recognition when his song "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, becoming their first and only No. 1 hit. As the Mitchell Trio disbanded, Denver was climbing up the pop charts as a solo act with songs like "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," "Sunshine On My Shoulders," "Annie's Song," "Back Home Again," "Thank God I'm A Country Boy," and "Calypso," solidifying his position as one of the top stars of the 1970s.

By his third album in 1970, Denver’s social and political leanings were defined more clearly. Denver was one of the first artists to share an environmental message through his music, beginning with the Tom Paxton-penned song “Whose Garden Was This?” This was the first in a long line of songs that he recorded about the environment. Denver contributed his talents to the benefit of many charitable and environmental causes and received numerous civic and humanitarian awards over the years. Fans responded to his heartfelt urgings about ecology, peace, and compassion that were consistently delivered in a gentle manner on his records and at live performances.

Denver earned a GRAMMY Award in 1997 for Best Musical Album For Children his album All Aboard! In 1998, his hit song "Take Me Home, Country Road" was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Denver won countless other awards for his outstanding musical achievements and contributed his talents to the benefit of many charitable and environmental causes, which lead him to receive numerous civic and humanitarian awards over the years.

John Denver died tragically in a plane crash on October 12, 1997. He was survived by his brother Ron, mother Erma and three children, Zak, Anna Kate and Jesse Belle.

Rhymes & Reasons: The Music of John Denver will be on display in the GRAMMY Museum's Mike Curb Gallery on the fourth floor through July 30, 2017.