John Denver tribute artist 

Sixty seconds with Roy Rivers

Indy: You started doing this 10 years ago, less than two years after John Denver died. Was that difficult?

RR: One night after he died, I got up for a drink of water, saw my guitar sitting by a stone fireplace and started singing his songs and letting all this emotion come out. ... My record label is in Germany and I had the chance to record "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" with Dolly Parton and to appear on the German/American Country Music Federation award show. I got to accept their Hall of Fame Award on behalf of John Denver and bring it back to his mother Irma and brother Ron in Aspen. About five days afterward, my version of "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" with Dolly went to No. 1 in Europe.

Indy: Have his mother and brother given you a lot of encouragement?

RR: Actually, no. John died on October 12 back in 1997, and many people around the world on that date come to Aspen. I would see his mother, Irma, and his brother, Ron, being just bombarded by these folks, and I'd say to myself, "That's not what I want to do." They've never seen one of my live shows, so this [Colorado show] is going to be an experience for them and one that I hope they enjoy.

Indy: Nothing against you personally, but there's something about this that seems not quite right.

RR: That's been a prevailing feeling with folks since I've been doing this, and there are a few other people around the country doing this — all to mixed reviews. The people that come into these shows find I'm ultra-respectful of John: I'm not doing an impersonation. My voice is not exactly like his, but is very similar, and it allows the music and message of the songs to speak to them again.

At Morrison's Red Rocks Amphitheatre, June 27.


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