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John Denver celebration at the Forum

John Denver celebration at the Forum

May 15, 1978: John Denver, who sold out two concerts at the Inglewood Forum, showed added range and dimension in his music during his performance Monday night.

Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic, reported in the May 17, 1978 edition:

John Denver may be the pop hero of Middle America, but the majority of his audience Monday night in the Inglewood Forum was anything by silent.

When the 34-year-old singer-songwriter asked the audience to sing along on the chorus of “Back Home Again,” the 18,000 fans responded so naturally that you’d think they had been traveling with Denver on his 51-city U.S. tour.

The audience didn’t need any coaxing for the hand-clapping and foot-stomping support it gave when Denver followed that song with the festive “Grandma’s Feather Bed.”

But the real outburst came on the rousing “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy.” The audience whooped it up with an energy and zest that the Forum staff would normally associate only with a Rolling Stones encore.

This audience wanted to participate.

“WE LOVE YOU, JOHN!” shouted a group of young female fans midway through the nearly 2½-hour concert.

“YOU’RE NO. 1!” yelled some others…

Because the Forum date was Denver’s first non-benefit appearance here in two years, the audience’s enthusiasm was probably heightened a bit. But Denver’s fans have been showering him with roughly the same warmth and affection for some time now.

To most of his audience, he is far more than just an entertainer. His wholesome manner and generally cheery, optimistic tunes about such traditional values as family and nature have struck a sociological chord in those seeking a break from the turmoil of urban life. The effect for some is almost therapeutic.

“No matter how you feel when you come in here, you’ve got to feel better when you leave,” said one Denver fan Monday. “It lets you escape from all that stuff outside.”…

This photo by former staff photographer Tony Barnard accompanied Hillburn’s article in the May 17, 1978 Los Angeles Times.

John Denver died in a Oct. 12, 1997 airplane crash. His obituary, Singer John Denver killed in plane crash, was published in the Oct. 14, 1997 Los Angeles Times.

May 15, 1978: John Denver in concert at the Forum. Credit: Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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3 Comments

  1. March 14, 2014, 4:34 pm

    There were actually three concerts. The first two sold out immediately so they offered a third show at midnight. My friends and I got tickets for that one. It was truly a magical evening/early morning!

    By: pzkwv0@gmail.com
  2. March 14, 2014, 4:51 pm

    What a wonderful article. Thank you Sir. He is missed…. What One Man Can Do

    By: lmaiuri2@aol.com
  3. May 18, 2014, 10:11 am

    Yes indeed. The voice for the environment and the brotherhood of mankind, so sorely missed. "I'd trade it all plus the gal or guy down the road ", for a voice ungoverned by supply and demand and its libertarian greed. Oh how I miss the soaring quality of his voice and his music and the hope that filled his life view.

    By: Barb F

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