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Hole Notes: The Fingerstyle and Flat-Picking Passages of John Denver

The following content is related to the January 13 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

John Denver began his career in folk groups in the Sixties and had chart success as a songwriter, but it was the sweet sounds of his Seventies solo records that made him a household name. Hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Annie’s Song” and “Rocky Mountain High” helped bring folk, pop and country to the commercial forefront that decade. Though he was often dismissed for his wholesome, clean-cut image, Denver was undeniably a stellar tunesmith and a fantastic fingerpicker.

While the subject matter of his songs revolved around relationships and nature, many were penned of his love for the state of Colorado, where he lived for many years (he even changed his name from Deutschendorf to “Denver” in honor of the state’s capitol). In the Eighties and Nineties, up until his death, he also lent his efforts to raising awareness of environmentalist causes, political issues and humanitarian work. He died in a plane crash—a solo flight, with Denver at the helm—in 1997.