John Denver’s CMA Win 35 Years On

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It’s Country Music Month, and to celebrate Trends has been looking through every winner of the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award. Today we hit 1975 and take a look at the unique legacy of John Denver.

When 1974’s CMA Entertainer Of The Year Charlie Rich took to the stage to announce his successor he managed to shock the entire industry. On opening the envelope and finding Denver’s name inside he took out a lighter and burned the paper, announcing the winner with enough bad grace that he was never quite forgiven.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that the acts most beloved by his 310,035 listeners at make up a very different definition of ‘Country’ than Rich’s Nashville Sound, one that has endured somewhat better: Rich has only 25% of the listeners on, and 15% of Denver’s total scrobbles.

screen shot 2010 10 12 at 17 45 51 John Denvers CMA Win 35 Years On

The likes of Gordon Lightfoot and Peter, Paul and Mary now seem closer in spirit to hippies than hard drinking heroes like Johnny Cash.

That said Denver was a deserving winner of the Entertainment award: he picked up an Emmy in the same year as his CMA win for a TV special. In later years he would team up with The Muppets for TV movies and guest slots, always happy to bring as much humor to his folky sets as country standards.

Discover more about how listeners have responded to Denver’s music on his page.

In the meantime remember to check back for more from the Trends team throughout Country Music Month.

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