Pete Huttlinger, Guitarist for John Denver, Dies at 54

Pete Huttlinger
Courtesy of Morris PR

Guitarist and Composer Pete Huttlinger 

Pete Huttlinger, who is best known for being the lead guitarist for John Denver, died Friday (Jan. 15) from a stroke. He was 54.

Huttlinger passed away at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville surrounded by family, friends and fellow musicians.

“I am paralyzed,” his wife, Erin Morris Huttlinger, wrote on Facebook. “On Monday Pete had a brain bleed and was admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Over the course of less than 24 hours he went from talking and laughing to unresponsive. He never regained consciousness and today at 12:30pm he died.”

Huttlinger was born June 22, 1961, in Washington, D.C. He was the youngest son of Joseph Bernard Huttlinger, a White House correspondent and trade journalist, and Mary Elizabeth Walker Huttlinger. His fascinated with music started at age 9 when his brother-in-law introduced him to folk style, five-string banjo playing.

After graduating with honors from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Huttlinger moved to Nashville to begin his musical career. Ten years later he connected with Denver after a producer heard him playing on a recording session. Huttlinger toured with Denver over the next four years and played on his various recordings.  

He would go on to tour with such artists as LeAnn Rimes and John Oates.

As a solo artist, Huttlinger recorded more than 15 albums. His final set, Parnassus, a collaboration with vocalist Mollie Weaver, came out in 2015.

He is survived by his wife, Erin; stepchildren Sean Della Croce and James Della Croce; his brother, Frank Huttlinger; and his sister, Theresa Vigour.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.