How John Deutschendorf Became John Denver

Randy Sparks passed away this past February 11, 2024, at the age of 90.

Randy was a colorful and influential person in the Folk Music Industry.  He was also very personable and approachable, and he LOVED to tell stories. 

One of the stories he told us (and many others over the years) was the story in which he credits himself as the person who gave John Denver his stage name. 

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was performing at Randy’s club Ledbetters, when Randy commented his name wouldn’t fit on a marquee.  Randy suggested that John take the last name of Denver (Randy had written and recorded a song called “Denver” and he said the sheet music was laying there so he suggested that).  John resisted.  He very adamantly wanted to keep his family name, but he finally and reluctantly went with Randy’s suggestion.

The John Denver connection with Randy Sparks continued with John Denver recording other songs of Randy’s, including “Today” and “Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio” on multi-platinum albums. 

Blogs are supposed to be short – so this is my own abbreviated version of a very long and detailed story that Randy told me and Jim.  Randy was a  wonderful storyteller, he greatly influenced Folk Music history and many aspiring singer/songwriters…learn more on Wikipedia and The New Christy Minstrel website.

Rest in Peace:   Lloyd Arrington Sparks (July 29, 1933 – February 11, 2024)

Anne Gets a New Job…..

Don’t panic!  I am still singing harmony and playing backup in Jim Curry’s John Denver Tribute Show!

What I meant to say is that I have taken on a new responsibility in our shows,

Here’s why:

Many of you already know that our wonderful flautist and business partner, Diane Ireland, just retired and is managing her arthritis more comfortably at home rather than in a bouncy van.  What many of you DON’T know is that Diane, in addition to playing the flute during our shows, also pushed the button that started the videos we show during each song.

This button-pushing job sounds easy…heck…what could be hard about pushing a button? 

Let me tell you that what Diane did flawlessly for so many years comes off a little less polished when I’m in charge!  I must REMEMBER to push the button at the beginning of the song or I will mess up the timing of the images.  For instance, when we are singing about eagles, we want to see eagles!  When the dolphin jumps out of the water and spins, it should be at the exact moment the music swells……if he’s late, it’s MY fault.

The button must be pushed when the song begins, not two seconds before or after.  IF I FORGET…….. I can’t skip ahead or fast-forward.  If I forget to push the button at the beginning of a song, the video will lag behind.  The eagles will be late, the horses will be late and the dolphin…….well, he will be jumping out of the water and giving me a dirty look!

One of My Many Tasks on Stage: Making Jim Laugh!

This is a LOT of pressure!  Let me tell you that in the history of doing our shows for the past 25 years, I have learned how to perform every single song in every single show by NOT PUSHING A BUTTON AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY SONG!!  Let me also tell you that I have other things to think about and other buttons to push (mute button, tuner button, etc), not to mention remembering lyrics and chords and smiling and not falling down and all the other important stuff!

As old dogs go, I’m pretty much out of tricks.  I think the saying goes that old dogs CAN learn new tricks, but it takes them longer to learn. 

Soooooo….. Here’s to learning, and here’s to my new button-pushing future!