Meeting John Denver

Posted on Posted in Stories

How John Denver Dealt with Traveling on a Commercial Flight with His Guitar (at least once!)

by Mark Hanson

The only time I met John Denver was in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport at Christmastime, 1971. I was at the gate (at that time, of course, we could meet travelers as they departed the plane) to greet my brother Eric, who was returning from New York. When he came off the plane, he suggested we wait a few minutes and we might be able to talk with the increasingly famous John Denver as he deplaned.

When John emerged from the jetway, he was carrying a hard-shell guitar case and a bunch of Christmas presents. (He had relatives in the Twin Cities.) He nodded to my brother, who had engaged him in conversation on the plane, and proceeded a few steps past us, where he put his guitar and myriad packages on the floor to rearrange them. We walked over and asked if we could help him carry something.

He said thank you, and yes, he would appreciate some help. I was standing nearest his guitar, with his packages on the floor beyond him. He looked at me, looked down at his guitar, and proceeded to reach over and hand me some packages from his other side! (I would have done the same thing with someone I didn’t know!)

We had a pleasant conversation as we walked to the car rental booth. He had been in New York City recording a song for possible use during the Olympics of 1972 (the infamous Munich Olympics). Unfortunately, I don’t know which song it was, and never heard it during the broadcasts I watched.

Besides being funny and dear, the point of this story is that John initially dealt with traveling with his main guitar this way: He bought two first-class tickets for this flight, one for himself and one for his guitar. (The guitar had the window seat, according to Eric, and regulations.)

So, if you can afford it, perhaps the best way to ensure that your guitar travels safely is to buy it a window seat next to you! (We’ll have to check current regulations to see if this is still allowed…)

Mark Hanson

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