On October 12, 1997, tragedy struck off the coast of Pacific Grove, California. Singer-Songwriter John Denver crashed his plane into the sea. Test your knowledge of Denver and the events of that day with these trivia questions.
What Kind of Plane was Denver Flying? Denver had purchased a homebuilt plane known as the Rutan Long-EZ two weeks prior to the crash. The plane model was named after its designer, Burt Rutan, and was modeled off the first kit available to homebuilders, the VariEze. Denver was an experienced pilot with over 2,700 hours in flight recorded, but the Long-EZ had some design flaws that ultimately lead to his fatal fall from the sky.
What Caused Denver to Crash? On the day of the crash, Denver had been practicing take-offs and landings in his newly-acquired plane at the Monterey Penninsula Airport. With just 15 gallons of gas on board, it's likely Denver ran out of fuel in at least one of his fuel tanks during this activity. The Long-EZ was designed to allow pilots to switch to a second fuel tank by moving a handle situated between the pilot's legs, however, the aircraft maker, Andre Davis Jr., positioned the fuel selector handle over the pilot's left shoulder when he built the plane. Denver would have had to turn a complete 90 degrees in his seat to move the handle. This forced Denver to leverage his weight against the right rudder, causing the plane to roll to the right and crash into the sea.
John Denver's Rocky Mountain High became an official state song of what U.S. state? "Rocky Mountain High" was written by John Denver and Mike Taylor about Colorado, and is one of the two official state songs of Colorado. Recorded by Denver in 1972, it went to #9 on the US Hot 100 in 1973. Denver told concert audiences in the mid-1970s that the song took him an unusually long nine months to write. "Rocky Mountain High" is primarily inspired by John Denver's move to Aspen, Colorado three years earlier and his love for the state. The seventh stanza makes a reference to destruction of the mountains' beauty by commercial tourism. The song was considered a major piece of 1970s pop culture, and became a well-associated piece of Colorado history.
What Happened When John Denver Won the Country Music Association "Entertainer of the Year" Award in 1975?
Charlie Rich had been named "Entertainer of the Year" in 1974 and as is tradition, returned to the show in 1975 to present the award to his successor. After reading the nominees live on the show, Rich opened the envelope containing the winner's name - and promptly set it on fire. He then announced the winner as his "friend, John Denver." Denver came on via satellite to accept the award, seemingly unaware of Rich's actions.
While no one knows for sure why Rich burned the envelope, it's widely believed he did so in protest of an "untraditional" country artist like Denver winning the award. Rich's son, on the other hand, believes his dad was just a bit...loopy. Apparently, he had been on medication for a foot injury and was drinking gin and tonics that night, which may have led to the bad decision.