This John Denver Hit Was Banned From The Radio

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In John Denver’s autobiography, he states:

“I remember, almost to the moment, when that song started to take shape in my head. We were working on the next album and it was to be called Mother Nature’s Son, after the the Beatles song, which I’d included. It was set for release in September. In mid-August, Annie and I and some friends went up to Williams Lake to watch the first Perseid meteor showers. Imagine a moonless night in the Rockies in the dead of summer and you have it. I had insisted to everybody that it was going to be a glorious display. Spectacular, in fact.”

Denver began to write this song during the Perseid Meteor Shower which happens every August. He was camping with some friends at the tree line over at Williams Lake near Windstar (his foundation in Colorado) when suddenly there were various shooting stars and he noticed-

“The shadow from the starlight”

… This would inspire that line from the song. He claims that while the inspiration approached him swiftly, it took around nine months for him to officially finish the song.

All of the emotions and hard work that he put into writing this song proved to be useless when “Rocky Mountain High” was temporarily deemed controversial. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission was allowed by a legal ruling to censor any music that seemed to promote drug abuse. Many radio stations quickly banned the song from broadcasting until Denver publicly explained that the “high” was his innocent interpretation of the overwhelming sense of peace that he found out there in the Rockies. In 1985, Denver testified before Congress in the Parents Music Resource Center hearings about his natural experience:

John Denver testifying for his song via Getty Images

“As an artist, I am opposed to any kind of a rating system, voluntarily or otherwise. My song ‘Rocky Mountain High’ was banned from many radio stations as a drug-related song. This was obviously done by people who had never seen or been to the Rocky Mountains and also had never experienced the elation, celebration of life, or the joy in living that one feels when he observes something as wondrous as the Perseid meteor shower on a moonless, cloudless night, when there are so many stars that you have a shadow from the starlight, and you are out camping with your friends, your best friends, and introducing them to one of nature’s most spectacular light shows for the very first time. Obviously, a clear case of misinterpretation. Mr. Chairman, what assurance have I that any national panel to review my music would make any better judgment?”

Click “Next” to read some pop culture facts and the lyrics of the popular John Denver song.


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