Rewinding the Country Charts: In 1974, John Denver Went 'Back Home' for His First No. 1

John Denver photographed in the 1970s.

John Denver photographed in the 1970s.

After breaking through at pop, Denver earned his first Hot Country Songs leader.

On Nov. 30, 1974, John Denver earned his first No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, "Back Home Again."

The song had become his first country top five but his fourth on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, as his folk-pop sound first enthralled mainstream audiences before crossing to country.

Penned by Denver, born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. in 1943, "Home" served as the title track to his eighth studio LP, and first Top Country Albums leader. The set produced a second No. 1 single, 1975's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy." He added his third and final leader, "I'm Sorry," also in 1975.

While Denver's 1971 debut, "Take Me Home Country Roads" stopped at No. 50 on Hot Country Songs (although it hit No. 2 on the Hot 100), it became one of three songs, along with Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again," showcased in "Forever Country," the all-star ode to 50 years of the Country Music Association Awards that debuted atop the Oct. 8 Hot Country Songs chart.

Denver's life was cut short when the plane he was piloting crashed on Oct. 12, 1997. He was only 53.


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