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John Denver’s Fame Destroyed His Marriages

They say that what goes up must come down. Sure, we just started this video out with a warn-out cliché, but that’s just the way it is.

Anyway, folk legend John Denver learned the hard way that his meteoric rise to fame in the 1970s wasn’t without it’s disadvantages.

While his bank account no doubt ballooned rapidly during the period that he succeeded in taking the world of folk music to unprecedented new heights, John’s personal life wasn’t quite as prosperous.

John Denver was married twice. His first marriage was to Annie Martell. If you’re a fan of his music, you might recognize her as being the subject of his hit 1974 song ‘Annie’s Song’, which he reportedly wrote in just ten minutes while sitting on a ski lift in Colorado.

Annie was by Denver’s side throughout the most prolific years of his career. The two married in 1968, but unfortunately, their relationship ended in divorce in 1982.

Denver’s second marriage was to Australian actress Cassandra Delaney. The two tied the knot in 1988 after a two-year courtship but by 1991, their relationship had developed severe problems which culminated in them separating. Two years later, in 1993, Denver and Delaney were officially divorced.

Denver was once quoted as saying when asked about his second marriage, that while it was short-lived, in the time that they were together, Delaney managed to ‘make a fool’ out of him ‘from one end of the valley to the other.

Fortunately, some good came out of both of those failed marriages. With his first wife, Annie, the two adopted two children; a son named Zachary John and a girl named Anna Kate. With second wife, Cassandra, John fathered a daughter named Jesse Belle. John loved his children dearly and actively remained in their lives up until his death in 1997. Tragically, Denver was killed in a plane crash that went down in the Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California.

While his story ended in such a horrific way, John Denver managed to accomplish quite a bit throughout his life and musical career. He recorded and released over 300 songs, of which 200 of those he composed himself. He put out 33 albums and singles that were certified Gold or Platinum in the United States by the RIAA. Additionally, it’s estimated that over 33 million units of his works have been purchased.

At the time of his death, Denver’s net worth was estimated at $60 million. That’s quite a bit of change for some country boy from Roswell, New Mexico.

Although he was undoubtedly one of the most successful recording artists of the 70s, later on in his career, Denver’s star began to fade. Not only was he unable to replicate the same level of success that he found with songs such as Take Me Home, Country Roads and Thank God I’m a Country Boy, but it’s very clear that Denver’s personal life suffered due to his challenging experience with fame and fortune.

Join Facts Verse as we reveal how John Denver’s Fame Destroyed His Marriages. While we’re not going to sugarcoat his story, especially since he is no longer with us, we still want to give Denver the respect that he deserves. That’s why while we will be talking about his failed marriages, we’ll also be taking some time to highlight some of his career high points. So, let’s get started.

A Master Songwriter

If you were to consider Elvis Presley to be the quintessential musical artist of the ’50s and The Beatles the standout musical act of the ’60s, we think it would be fairly safe to call John Denver the most prolific songwriter of the ’70s.

His vibrant lyrics, which he delivered like a master storyteller, painted a very picturesque image of the themes that mattered most to him. Along with his rising vocals and skilled use of the acoustic guitar, Denver’s music provided listeners with a pleasant escape from the complexities of 1970s life. Songs such as Country Roads, Sunshine on My Shoulder, and Rocky Mountain High were the kind of tracks that separated John from all of the other acts that were trending during the decade that was plagued by soaring inflation, political upheaval and the erosion of the US’s prestige throughout the globe.

But just like so many other musicians that have come before and after him, Denver’s life came to an abrupt and tragic end in 1997 in that aforementioned plane crash. While quite a few iconic musicians such as Jimmy Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin died because of their issues with substance abuse, Denver’s death was particularly shocking because of how unexpected it was. While it’s been debated rather fiercely over the years whether or not that fatal plane crash was intentional or not – an issue that we’ll have to cover in another video – regardless of specifics, John’s death rattled the nation.

But it wasn’t just his death that was troubling for his fans to witness. John Denver’s entire life story is a tale that is quite heartbreaking to tell. He experienced one of the most intense rises to fame of anyone of his era, but with that rise came an eventual fall. Before we tell you more about how John Denver’s life began to unravel in the years following his heydey, do us a favor and give this video a like while subscribing to the Facts Verse channel.

From Military Brat To International Superstars

John Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. on New Year’s Eve 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. His father was Captain Henry John Deutschendorf Sr, a US Air Force pilot who was stationed at Roswell Army Air Field. John’s mother was a homemaker named Erma Louise.

As a child, Denver’s father showed very little love to his children. Being a military family, the Deuteshendorfs moved around quite often. This made it very difficult for John to make new friends, and he always felt like he didn’t fit in with other kids his age. Constantly being the ‘new kid in town’ made Denver quite introverted and he grew up consistently feeling like he was supposed to be somewhere else, even though he never knew where that ‘right’ place was.

Since we’re dealing with time constraints, we’ll go ahead and skip ahead a bit to highlight how John Denver became the world-renowned singer-songwriter he’s famous for. But before we get to that, it’s worth noting that John’s father taught him how to fly a plane at an early age. He would remain passionate about flying for the remainder of his life.

Denver was gifted his first accoustic guitar from his grandmother at the age of 11. While his life felt unstable, that 1910 Gibson acoustic proved to be a very grounding and stabilizing object in his early life. As he taught himself to play the instrument, he frequently spent hours at a time out in nature. He found solace in the great outdoors, and they would ultimately become a central theme of his music.

While studying at Texas Tech University in the early 60s, Denver began playing gigs at local venues. After dropping out of college, he set out to make a name for himself in the music industry. In 1964, he moved to LA where he bagan playing at Leadbetter’s nightclub. It was there that he met the founder of the folk group The New Christy Minstrels, Randy Sparks.

Taking Randy’s advice, John dropped the name Deutschendorf and adopted the surname Denver. He chose the name since it was the capital of his favorite state, Colorado. Colorful Colorado was not only the state his family eventually settled in, but John also felt particularly inspired by the mountainous state’s awe-inspiring nature and landscape.

After catching his first big break in 1967 as a member of a band called Denver, Boise, and Johnson, Denver left the trio to pursue his solo career. In October of 1969, he put out his first album, Rhymes & Reasons, with RCA Records.

For the next several decades, Denver continued to put out album after album as his popularity grew at what looked to be an unstoppable pace. Eventually, he was playing sold-out shows in auditoriums and stadiums across North America.

Around the time that he put out his first solo album, Denver met and Married his first wife, Annie Martell. The couple lived in Edina, Minnesota, from 1968 to 1971. After finding success with his iconic song Rocky Mountain High, Denver and Annie moved to a house they purchased in Aspen, Colorado. John would continue to call Aspen his home for the remainder of his life.

John’s Demanding Career Killed His First Marriages

John really loved Annie. As we already mentioned, one of his biggest early hits, Annie’s Song, was even directly written about her. Although he had finally found the success that he always dreamed of, Denver began to realize that balancing an increasingly demanding musical career in the spotlight as well as a marriage was quite tricky.

In an interview included in the 2013 documentary John Denver: Country Boy, Denver reflected on his marriage and eventual divorce from Annie by stating that the demands and pressures of his musical career are what ultimately tore them apart. Martell likewise has been quoted as saying that she and John were simply too young and immature to deal effectively with Denver’s sudden rise to fame and fortune.

After divorcing in 1982, Denver reportedly lost it and became abusive after the property settlement was determined. Some sources indicate that Denver came dangerously close to choking Martell and that he even cut their marital bed in half lengthwise with a chainsaw.

His Marriage To Cassandra Delaney Was Equally Turbulent

After divorcing Martell in ’82, Denver married Australian-born actress Cassandra Delaney after dating for a couple of years. The two lived together at Denver’s home in Aspen. While their marriage was short-lived, they still managed to have a daughter, Jesse Belle, in the brief time they were an item.

As we touched on in the intro, Denver was quite bitter after he and Delaney’s marriage ended in divorce in 1993. That’s when he made that rather resentful comment about her making a fool of him from ‘one end of the valley to the other’ throughout their marriage.

Though we don’t know all of the gritty little details surrounding their failed marriage, it’s safe to say that Denver’s success as a musician and his inability to tend to both his familial and professional obligations in a balanced manner likely played a role of some kind in the failure of his second marriage as well.

John Denver never remarried after divorcing Delaney. There isn’t even much evidence to suggest that he dabbled in the dating world again prior to his untimely demise in 1997. Perhaps, by that time he simply decided to cut his losses and give up on romance. Either way, at the time of his death, John Denver was single and living alone at his Aspen estate.

That about wraps up this video, but we’d love to hear from you. Did you know that John Denver’s hit 1974 song Annie’s Song was written about his first wife, Annie Martell? And were you aware that Denver died tragically at the age of 53 when his plane went down in California? Let us know in the comments.

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As always, thanks for watching! We’ll see you with more content covering some of your favorite stars, films, television shows, and musical acts of yesteryear!

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