The Story Behind John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”

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John Denver

Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. is hardly the kind of name a disc jockey wants to see on the label of a record. That was pretty obvious from the start of John Denver’s career, but it wasn’t something he relinquished easily. John didn’t like giving up his real name, but on the other hand, he wasn’t going to let it stand in the way of doing what he really wanted to do with his life. He received all kinds of name-change suggestions, but the only one that ever rang true to him was “Denver.”


That name was familiar enough by 1975 that ABC-TV made him the centerpiece of an Emmy-winning special, “An Evening With John Denver.” The title of the program coincided with his two-record live album, recorded at the Universal Ampitheater in Los Angeles. The bulk of the material was credited to Denver, the classic singer/songwriter, but ironically, the lone single was written by a member of the band, John M. Sommers.

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