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John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” turns 50

Love, censorship and constant tributes define song’s history

John Wenzel, The Denver Post
John Denver and Kermit the Frog laugh during the taping of a Muppet Christmas special in Los Angeles in a Nov. 16, 1979, file photo.
AP Photo

This year marks five decades since John Denver’s iconic, occasionally controversial and resolutely pastoral folk anthem “Rocky Mountain High” was released, and Coloradans can celebrate with a major concert — as well as some self-directed excursions.

Colorado Symphony last week announced a Sept. 8 show at Boettcher Concert Hall honoring the song and Denver, a two-time Grammy award winner and former poet laureate of Colorado. He’ll be present, in a way, via archival footage of him performing songs from the 1972 “Rocky Mountain High” album and other hits.

Singer John Denver, left, and Dick Lamm greet prospective voters in downtown Denver’s Civic Center park on Oct. 24, 1974.
Denver Post file photo

While John Denver tribute shows have been common in Colorado since his 1997 death at the age of 53, the show will also feature members of his band performing live and telling stories about the singer-songwriter. Tickets, $15-$98, are on sale now at coloradosymphony.org.



On June 8, Gov. Jared Polis also marked the song’s 50th anniversary by renaming the Mountain Lion Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park to Rocky Mountain High Trail.

“Here in Colorado, we’ve always known that our majestic mountains, our bright blue skies, our starlit nights and our forest and streams were the stuff of legends — but John Denver made them the stuff of song lyrics, too,” Polis said in a statement. “And not just any lyrics, but world-famous lyrics that span genres and generations.”



Read more via The Denver Post.


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