Denver was not only a musician and incredibly successful songwriter and even actor. He was remarkably generous with both his fame and his fortune. He invested time and money in environmental causes and was a supporter of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. He was also a huge fan of manned space flight, though he never realized his dream of a trip on the space shuttle. He even testified before a Senate subcommittee concerned about explicit lyrics in popular music.
And, like his father before him, he loved to fly. In time Denver had a couple of thousand hours at the wheel and pilot ratings on multiple types of aircraft, including instrument flying and multi-engine craft. But he also had problems with alcohol and lost his medical certification to fly.
Which, unfortunately, didn’t stop him. He bought a home-built experimental plane to add to his fleet and was practicing takeoffs and landings in Monterrey, California, on October 12, 1997. The accident report says alcohol wasn’t a factor, and since he was alone in the plane, the best guess is that when he reached backwards to switch fuel tanks his body shifted on the controls, the plane went into a spin from which he couldn’t recover, and he crashed into Monterrey Bay. The official cause of death was blunt-force trauma. They had to use fingerprints to identify him, because a comparison with dental records wasn’t possible.
And don’t forget to practice.