This is John Denver still maintaining his folk roots, only a few years after his departure from The Chad Mitchell Trio and just in the formative stages of pursuing a solo career. Only a short time later would his career skyrocket. But this Troubadour concert comes around the time of the release of Poems, Prayers and Promises, his fourth album and the album which would become his breakthrough to commercial success. He is still very much in the mould of a Folk Singer here, but by now his own music is taking more of a center stage and the release of his single Take Me Home, Country Roads, would become his anthem of sorts and be indelibly marked with John Denver. He ends the set with that song.
But this is still relatively early John Denver and he’s making his way around a solo show – getting his one-on-one with the audience chops down – he’s personable and low-key. Within a year it would all be different. And the Folk aspects would give way to a slicker presentation, as his increased commercial success pushed him ever further into the mainstream. It’s interesting that, during this period of time he was still getting airplay on FM underground stations. It would continue, but less and less as time went on as tastes steered away from Folk to harder Rock. KDAY, one of the remaining top-40 AM stations in L.A. at the time, tried to branch out to a more FM audience. These live concerts were a regular feature at the station until they changed formats a little while later and became strictly R&B – very few of those concerts have survived.
An interesting and rare look at John Denver’s career right at the turning point. Sadly, his career was cut short as the result of a flying accident in 1997. At the time of his death he was regarded as one of the most popular artists of the 1970s and one of its best selling artists. By 1974 he would be a household name. In 1971 they were still just getting acquainted.