It is the 50th anniversary of the release of “Rocky Mountain High.” I love the Rocky Mountains.
I met John Deutschendorf Jr. (John Denver) in Huntsville, Texas in the early 1970’s. I was a college student at Sam Houston State University, and he hired my neighbor Claudia to make a shirt for him.
Go look at some of John Denver’s old album covers. You will see the shirts I am talking about.
Claudia had moved into the house next to mine with a husband and two little kids. I would see the kids outside playing all the time but never saw any grown-ups. The kids were friendly, and I so was I, so we talked whenever I was coming or going to and from class or work. I wondered where the parents were.
Claudia was watching all this from the bedroom. She was confined to bed because she had broken her back in a car accident. She’d been watching and listening to all the conversations I was having with her kids. She knew I was good hearted. We became good friends.
When she recovered and was well enough to work, she got a job in the fabric section of the local five and dime. It was at this store that she met John Denver and he hired her to create a special shirt for him.
He liked the shirt so much he ordered several more. When she needed to deliver them to him, she asked me to drive her out to the remote ranch where he was staying. That is when I met him. We spent the day out at the ranch with him. We rode horses, had lunch, he played some music. Good times. He was very kind to both of us. He was the first star I ever met. Little did I know that I would meet many more.
After I graduated from college, I ended up moving to Nederland Colorado and working at Caribou Ranch Recording Studio. I worked there on and off beginning in 1977. You can look up Caribou Ranch and see all the stars that recorded there. John Denver is on the list. (So is John Lennon and Elton John but I did not meet these two Johns.) 150 artists recorded there.
Caribou Ranch was an amazing place to work. 45 top ten albums, 18 Grammy awards and 20 number one Billboard hits were recorded there at the beautiful beyond words recording studio.
While I was working there, I was asked to drive Willie Nelson around.
Willie had been up at the Ranch to hang out with Kris Kristofferson. Kris was there to record an album. At his request, I made TexMex Chicken Enchiladas for him. My aunt had gone to school with Kris in Brownsville, Texas. He asked if I could make TexMex and so I did. He was pleased.
Willie and Kris played at Rock Rocks in a concert while Willie was there. I got to drive Willie to Red Rocks.
The concert was one of many I got to drive stars to. If you have a chance, go to a concert at Red Rocks.
It truly is a Rocky Mountain High.