Friday, October 12, 2007

The Day the Music Died

10 years ago today, John Denver had an unscheduled landing in Monterey Bay. I first saw him on a local music program on television around the time that Peter, Paul and Mary had a hit with Jet Plane. I confess that I made a point of going to Jasper, Alberta to photograph the things of which he sang. His music spoke to my soul in a way no other songwriter's work has and I sorely miss the enjoyment of a new recording.

He was also a terrific performer, and I saw him in concert many times. The last was six months before he died in a venue where we had the best seats I'd ever had for one of his appearances--fourth row center. His voice got better with age and he was fantastic that night.

I met him once, in the mid-1980s, when he was in Washington for World Hunger Day. I screwed up my courage to go tell him how much I had enjoyed his music over the years. He got my name, addressed me by it several times as we walked out of the Kennedy Center theatre, which impressed the hell out of me. I photographed him that evening when he sang at the National Cathedral, but I never got the opportunity to shoot a magazine or album cover of him. That's a major regret of my photographic career, along with shooting a cover story for Life Magazine.

It is rather sweetly ironic that on the anniversary of the death of this songwriter who used his celebrity so well in pursuit of world peace and concern for the environment that Al Gore should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on environmental issues.

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