Pacific Grove, CA John Denver Dies in Plane Crash, Oct 1997

John Denver album cover from Memorial to John Denver with inscribed lyrics to the song "Rocky Mountain High" in Rio Grande Park in Aspen, Colorado, photo by Matthew Trumb, from

Singer John Denver Dies In Plane Crash

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (AP) -- JOHN DENVER, whose songs "Rocky Mountain High" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" gained him worldwide appeal and millions of record sales in the 1970's, was killed in a single-engine plane crash. He was 53.
"I heard from his sister that yes, he was on the plane. And he has perished," TERI MARTELL, whose sister ANNIE was DENVER'S first wife, said today. "He loved flying. He died doing something he loved."
MARTELL, her voice breaking, told The Associated Press from her home in Minnesota that she did not wish to discuss the death at length. "I should not be talking to reporters, she said.
The Monterey County coroner had not yet confirmed his death early today. The body was recovered Sunday from Monterey Bay.
The plane, which he owned, was made of fiberglass with a single engine and two seats. It was considered an experimental aircraft, said Pacific Grove police Lt. CARL MILLER. It took off from Monterey Airport shortly after 5 p. m. Sunday, with the first reports of a crash at 5:27 p. m. Only one person was aboard.
The plane was flying about 500 feet in the air "when it just sort of dropped unexpectedly into the ocean," MILLER said. "When it hit the water it broke into numerous parts."
Witness CAROLYN PEARL told KCBA-TV that she saw a puff and heard a 'popping" sound before the crash. The plane "kind of went up a little bit and absolutely straight down, not spiraling, just absolutely straight down," she said. "I thought it was doing some kind of acrobatic move, or something, and then realized it wasn't."
DENVER, a licensed pilot, was in a previous plane accident in April 1989. He walked away uninjured after the 1931 biplane he was piloting spun around while taxiing at an airport in Northern Arizona.
"We are all very broken up over this," said a family friend, JERRY MCCLAIN. "The person JOHN was in public was the person JOHN was personally."
Born HENRY JOHN DEUTSCHENDORF, JR., the son of a U. S. Air Force pilot took his stage name from the premier city in Colorado, where he eventually made his home.
In the mid-60's, he was chosen from 250 other hopefuls as the lead singer for the Chad Mitchell Trio as a replacement for the departing Mitchell. But the trio's best years were behind it by then, and he left in 1969 for a solo career. That same year, his song, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" became a big hit for Peter, Paul and Mary.
Soon, DENVER'S own records - melodic, light folk-pop with touches of country -“ began climbing the charts as well.

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