Country Throwback: Watch John Denver’s Final Public Performance in 1997

by Matthew Wilson

When he passed away in 1997, John Denver left behind a poignant and lasting legacy. His music continues to find new listeners and fans that appreciate his melodies and peaceful tones.

On Oct. 5, 1997, Denver gave what turned out to be his last performance. The popular folk and country singer would die just a week later in a plane crash. Denver played a concert at the Selena Auditorium in Corpus Christi, Texas. This performance might have completely been forgotten to the pages of history if not for one stubborn radio station employee.

For the concert, audience members were only allowed to film for 20 seconds. One radio station employee ignored this rule and filmed two songs by Denver. But he was kicked out of the venue before he could film more. Now, he’s uploaded the performance to YouTube for Denver fans everywhere.

In the YouTube description, he wrote, “His people warned us NOT to shoot continuous, only to roll for about 20 seconds, then stop 10. I ignored them and rolled straight. When one of the guys noticed I had done so, they kicked me out halfway into the second song.”

He also said that he got the approval of a friend of the family to post the video of Denver’s performance.

“A friend of the family contacted me. And said John’s mother had just died several months prior. And she wished she had known about this sooner and shown her before she died,” he wrote. “She thanked me for putting up for those who would appreciate it. And that is why I am doing this. Not for $ from ads or clicks or anything. To simply share it with those who love John Denver.”

John Denver’s Legacy Lives On

Though he may be gone, John Denver’s music continues to inspire country boys everywhere. The musician’s name registers among the pantheon of late, great musicians. His voice will continue to ring throughout the ages, even 23 years after his death.

Denver always had a way with words, often writing about his own personal hangups as well as nature. For instance, “Annie’s Song” was an ode to his first wife Annie and his own relationship failures. Meanwhile, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” has become an anthem not just to West Virginia but to nature and splendor everywhere.

Denver lives on in the recordings and music he left behind.