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Dec 31, 2016

In the years that I was a pop music critic for the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune back in the mid-1980s, one of the best parts of the job was interviewing musicians by phone before they came to town. I always liked the conversation, the give-and-take, the challenge of engaging talented men and women who talked all day long with reporters—and no doubt hated most of it. At the end of almost every interview, the musician would invite the critic to come backstage after their upcoming show and say “Hello.” I almost never did that because I knew it was more a pleasantry than a sincere invitation. But when John Denver said to come around, I actually followed through. It was January 21, 1984, the weekend of Super Bowl XVIII in Tampa, and John was performing at the Bayfront Center Arena in St. Petersburg as part of the festivities. My mother was in town visiting that week and I bought tickets to take her to see Denver, as well as Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti. I thought it would be a treat for her to go backstage and meet Denver, so that’s what we did. Denver greeted her by her first name: “Phyllis! It’s so nice to meet you!” And told her what a nice story her son wrote about him. He even posed for a photo. Of course, that was actually the second backstage visit I arranged for my Mom over the years. The first was in 1975, when I bought tickets for her and my dad to see “God’s Favorite” on Broadway, starring Charles Nelson Reilly, who went to high school with my father back in Hartford. But that’s a story for another day. I hope you’ll enjoy this never-before-heard Mr. Media “Lost Tapes” rare John Denver interview, recorded on January 13, 1984.

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