Denver's music mournful background for his funeral
October 17, 1997
Web posted at: 12:24 p.m. EDT (1624 GMT)
DENVER (CNN) -- Hundreds of friends, family members and fans
of John Denver gathered Friday for a memorial service to say
good-bye to the musician who won America's heart by singing
about the splendor of the Rocky Mountains.
Under brilliant blue skies, Denver's music somberly carried
across the church parking lot before the service as mourners
-- many dressed in casual clothes -- lined up outside. Some
lip-synched the familiar tunes while fighting back tears.
"I am so sorry he died but so very, very happy he lived,"
Denver's close friend, Tom Crumb, said during the service in
a voice cracking with emotion. "Even though I have tears up
here, it's a time of celebration for this person's life. He
was such a great spirit."
The service began around 10 a.m. (1600 GMT) at Faith
Presbyterian Church in suburban Aurora, a church attended by
the singer's mother since the 1970s. At the front of the
church, a large picture of the singer was unveiled just
before the service began. There was no coffin; the singer was
More than 1,000 people gathered inside the main sanctuary.
The funeral ceremony was to be piped into two other church
rooms where another 1,000 could sit.
The boyish-looking singer, songwriter and environmental
activist died Sunday at age 53 when his experimental plane
crashed in California's Monterey Bay.
A separate service was planned in Aspen, Colorado, on
Saturday. Denver fell in love with the area on a trip
there in 1967, and made it his home.
Denver's career took off in the 1970s when he began singing
about the beauty of the Rockies, and eight of his albums went
platinum. Among his best-loved songs were "Rocky Mountain
High" and "Take Me Home Country Roads."
Born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. in Roswell, New Mexico,
where his father was stationed in the military, the singer
adopted his stage name from the Colorado capital.