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Elvis and John Denver

Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:46 am

I would like to know if Elvis knew,liked,disliked John Denver.I would imagine The Colonel did not since Denver was the new hot artist for RCA in the 70s. And so the colonel did not have the clout he had before this new boy. I remember as a kid seeing a lot of promotion for Denver at the record stores.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:49 am

I have a feeling that Elvis or the Colonel didn't give it much thought one way or the other.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 9:02 am

Just curious because Denver was the top selling artist for RCA for a few years until 8/16/77.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 11:43 am

It's unclear what Elvis felt, but it's for certain that Charlie Rich found Denver's talent in the country field ... lacking.


Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:13 pm

Other than burning a ballot that has Denver's name as the winner, on stage in front of a couple of thousand people, and in front of a television audience of millions, what makes you say that, Doc?

Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:18 pm

That incident had nothing to do with Denver

Out of the other side of Doc's two-face, he'd say:

Rich's fault - had his own anger and bitterness issues.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:28 pm

The Envelope Burning
One of the questions I'm most asked is in regard to my father burning "John Denver's" envelope at the CMA Awards. The "envelope incident" is either loved or hated, depending on your point of view. Many John Denver fans thought it was a tacky thing to do. Then you have those that think it was the greatest pro-traditionalist country stance ever. Let's back up for a moment and I'll try to explain what I think it was all about.

For those of you that assume Charlie thought John wasn't country enough, I'm sorry but you're wrong. If you feel that way fine, but that wasn't my father's point of view. Anybody that knows anything at all about the history of my father will know that it simply wasn't in his mind set to judge someone for not being "country enough", "blues enough", "rock enough", or "anything enough". It went against everything he believed in. He started out as a rockabilly, then did R&B for several years, then he migrated to Jazz, and finally to country. For years people said my father wasn't country enough. In fact, a few well known country artists at the time tried to start their own awards show (separate from the CMA), primarily because they thought "Behind Closed Doors" and Charlie Rich just weren't traditional country. I personally consider that musical bigotry, and my father didn't take part in that kind of judgementalism. What are people really saying when they something isn't country enough? I like what Kenny Rogers said: "country music is whatever country people listen to". I couldn't agree more. I love Shania, Vince, and Charlie Rich. You couldn't really call any of them a die hard honky tonk red neck. Neither was Eddie Arnold, Ronnie Milsap, Eddie Rabbit, or any number of country superstars. So, let me make it clear, I don't believe my father burned that envelope because of that.

He also didn't burn it because he disliked John Denver. I never heard him utter one bad word against any musician or singer. In John Denver's case, Dad told me that he liked him. I think the saddest thing that came out of the whole affair was that people thought it was an anti-John Denver thing when it wasn't. Dad had met John before and liked him, in fact he said the award goes to my good buddy John Denver. Those are the words he used. Then of course he lit the envelope and the rumours started flying.

Okay then, why did he do it? I'll tell you why I thought he did it.

#2 BAD JUDGEMENT. He had recently broken his foot in a freak accident at his home in Memphis. It sounds funny, but he got his foot caught in an awkward position while getting out of a reclining chair. He cracked several bones in his foot. So...
Due to the pain, he took pain medication the night of the show: BAD IDEA!
Secondly, he and another country star got to drinking Gin and Tonics while waiting in the dressing room. The show was long, so by the time Dad was supposed to go on, the drinks on top of the medication did their work.
Aside from the foot thing, Dad was burnt out on the "business" of music. Not music, but the pencil pushing unfairness of the industry valuing profit at the expense of artistic integrity. Just so you know, this is not my opinion, but something we had talked about often. Many will tell you that my father was ready to get out of the music business even before he made it big. The years on the road, the honky tonks, the politics of the business had already taken a toll on him. He loved music, but hated the music business.
He also didn't like the whole concept of competition in music, so the awards shows were never really his cup of tea. He used to tell me, "It's an art, not a sport". I'm sure he wouldn't have appreciated today's "American Idol" and "You Can Be A Star", as it's basic premise is flawed. The criteria is patently unfair, i.e., you can't be over 24. What' up with that? It's what I call the "Star Search" approach to singing. How long and loud can you hold a note. I'm sorry, but that's the height of amateurism. Who cares how long you can hold a note, can you sing? Can you impart the meaning of a song?
In summary, I think Dad just didn't think such a big deal would be made of it. I don't think he thought that people would think it was anything other than a joke. Having said that, the influence of combining pain medication (which, by the way, he was under doctor's orders to do) and alcohol can't be underestimated. So maybe he used bad judgement. Well, he was human after all. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician. He felt badly that people thought it was a statement against John Denver.

I've never told anyone this, but a few months after all this happened, my mother and father were in Aspen, Colorado. My father made a special trip to try and go visit John Denver. He drove up to his place because he wanted to explain what happened. Unfortunately, John wasn't there at the time, so that opportunity was missed. I honestly don't know if he ever got in touch with him or not, but I know he tried to on that occasion. So now you know. I've had a lot of people tell me they thought it was the coolest thing that ever happened. I've been reluctant to post what I know about it, but I think the truth of the situation is important for people to know.

I think my father's gotten a bad rap on this one. Country music should be proud to have someone with such a rich musical legacy as Charlie Rich. I think he was the greatest country vocalist, pianist, and artist of all time, in fact it's not even close when judged on musical values.

It would appear that the Country Music Hall of Fame has forgotten my father's contribution to country music. Many say he was black-balled due to the envelope incident. That despite the fact that he nearly single handedly brought country music to a whole new world of listeners from 1973 to 1980. A lot of people in our industry profited, either directly or indirectly, by my father's success. His appeal went beyond country. Many of his songs and albums reached the #1 Spot on Billboard's Pop, Country, and Easy Listening Charts. He elevated country music by appealing to a much wider audience than any country artist before him. Charlie Rich was the largest grossing country act in the 70s, period. His contribution to country music is of major importance. Unfortunately, if you go to the Country Music Hall of Fame, you won't find one single display about him, not one. That's just wrong. It's not unlike the old Pharaohs of Egypt, who used to destroy the monuments of their predecessors to try and minimize their achievements. It's really ludicrous. Since his passing in 1995, I've had literally hundreds of fans ask me why he hasn't been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I refer them to the following:

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum does not participate in the election of the members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. A select committee of the Country Music Association, the country music industry's trade organization, elects the members of the Hall of Fame.

I would like to see the CMA correct this tremendous oversight. I would like to see my father inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame because he deserves to be. I don't know if I'll live to see that, but you'd think they could at least have a display. I mean, really!
Last edited by Rob on Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:33 pm

I was being sarcastic Rob.


Actually, I like the 70s music of both Denver and Rich

there's room for both artists in a record collection

Fri Sep 16, 2005 12:37 pm

Well, I wasn't trying to prove you wrong. Actually, I had forgotten the entire story and wanted to find out for myself.

Sounds like Rich didn't have anything against him personally.

They're both gone now but left behind some great music.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 1:02 pm

CMT has a documentary in which they show the CMA clip - the ballot burning.

Denver was not there that night, but seen smiling on a screen via satellite - he wasn't even aware the incident happened...until later.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 4:16 pm

Some artists are hard to put in a specific category and benefit from the mainstream but suffer when it is award time and recognition. Since this is not Off topic I will add that John Denver had good taste picking musicians. I watched on TV what looked like the Whole TCB band on a wildlife Concert some years back. Did not know about envelope incident. Thanks for interesting post Rob and info from everyone.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 7:44 pm

Yes John's Wildlife concert was on Public television and it was very good. As I watched this I thought that John found his niche and was one of the best for the type of music he sang. He had what I would call a Country/folk style. And he was a talented song writer as well.

Fri Sep 16, 2005 8:37 pm

ekenee wrote:
And he was a talented song writer as well.

Yes......but a questionable pilot.

Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:45 am

EagleUSA wrote:ekenee wrote:
And he was a talented song writer as well.

Yes......but a questionable pilot.

Actually, he was a proficient pilot of ultralights, he just had trouble reading
a fuel guage.

Sat Sep 17, 2005 7:43 am

Man, you guys are cold.

I suppose if I asked what kind of wood does not float and told you the answer was Natalie, you'd think that was funny too.

Why don't you guys go down to the old folks home and pull all of the bolts out of the wheelchairs? That'd be a hoot!

I'll bet you guys have a ball watching the Jerry Lewis telethon every year!

Cold hearted people!

Sat Sep 17, 2005 11:20 pm

It was an experimental plane. Crashed into the ocean. Very sad and terrible way to go.

Sun Sep 18, 2005 2:57 am

Rob wrote:Man, you guys are cold.

I suppose if I asked what kind of wood does not float and told you the answer was Natalie, you'd think that was funny too.

Why don't you guys go down to the old folks home and pull all of the bolts out of the wheelchairs? That'd be a hoot!

I'll bet you guys have a ball watching the Jerry Lewis telethon every year!

Cold hearted people!

Take a Pill!
I just stated a fact, the man was practicing his takeoffs and landings, and ran out of gas. Thats a fact, whether you find it funny is up to you ... not my intention. I don't like your suggestion that I find physical handicaps to be a joke .... I put a lot of effort into social services and charitable fund raising, so stop judging others from your lofty throne.

Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:00 am

If you'll look closely at my post as well as others of mine, you'll find that it was done in jest. In other words, a joke. Therefore, no pill is required at the moment.

Have I come down from my lofty throne yet?

PS - You'll find that I am one of those who does not let anything upset him on this board. Now, you take a pill and keep on truckin'.