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Brad Fitch has spent 30 years singing John Denver at the Rocky Mountain National Park

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Estes Park, Colo. - gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. You can practically hear John Denver singing "Rocky Mountain High" in the wind. Or is it B.J. Leiderman who does our theme music? It's actually a local musician called Cowboy Brad, who's been treating visitors to John Denver's music for nearly three decades. Here is an audio postcard compiled by Rocky Mountain Community Radio's Maeve Conran.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRAD FITCH: (Singing) Well, life on the farm is kind of laid back. Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack. It's early to rise, early in the sack. I thank God I'm a country boy.

Hi, my name is Brad Fitch, and I am known as Cowboy Brad.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) My days are all filled with an easy country charm. Thank God I'm a country boy.

I have been playing in the park in downtown Estes Park for 27 summers. It would have been 28 had not the COVID thing happened in 2020.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) Almost heaven - West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains...

Well, having been a kid in the 1970s, raised here in Estes Park, Colo., John Denver was everywhere. You know, the governor appointed him as the poet laureate of Colorado. He was a big influence, and his music was on the radio everywhere. And naturally I absorbed a lot of that. Now, when I started playing in the park, I noticed that people, tourists, visitors, wanted to hear John Denver music because they associate his songs with Colorado. And so I learned more and more of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) All my memories gather around her...

I've had visitors come to hear me sing from all over the world. Last night it was Indonesia. I've had people from China, Japan, Australia. I've had people from African nations, from Eastern Europe, from all over the U.K., Canada, South America, Mexico and all over the United States. The most requested John Denver song is "Rocky Mountain High." I think I play that every night of the summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: Yes, sir. What was the song you wanted to hear?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: "Rocky Mountain High."

FITCH: Oh, "Rocky Mountain High." God, I have been meaning to learn that song. I'd be happy to - that's our state song here, you know.

(Singing) You might say he found a key for every door.

Well, I never get tired of playing "Rocky Mountain High" or those songs because it gives people so much joy to hear them. They associate that music with this place, and I enjoy being part of their experience and sort of providing the quintessential soundtrack for their visit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high...

When people come here to the Rocky Mountains, they associate it with John Denver. Playing his music for the visitors here from all over the world, I feel adds a nice element to their visit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) Rocky Mountain High.

Where?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing) Colorado.

FITCH: (Singing) Rocky Mountain High.

Where?

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing) Colorado.

FITCH: (Singing) He climbed cathedral mountains. He saw silver clouds below.

SIMON: And that's Brad Fitch, as brought to us by Maeve Conran of the Rocky Mountain Community Radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FITCH: (Singing) ...That he got crazy once, and he tried to touch the sun. And he lost a friend but kept his memory. Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Maeve Conran