The late singer John Denver, who was known for such hits as “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” had a lasting impact on many fans. And bringing back memories of John Denver and his music is what tribute artist Ted Vigil tries to do in every show he performs.
“What fulfills me the most is people saying, ‘I was going through some hard times and John’s music helped me through it.’ Or, ‘That song was sung at our wedding,’” said Vigil about his John Denver tribute. “That’s the most fulfilling thing - bringing back memories for people.”
Vigil and guitarist Steve Weisberg, who was Denver’s lead guitarist from 1973 to 1977, will present “The Music of John Denver” on Oct. 4 at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet. Opening for Vigil and Weisberg is Larry Crawford, the 2012 Rialto Idol contest winner.
Country-folk singer/songwriter John Denver was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1970s. His gentle music and wholesome appearance appealed to fans of all ages and backgrounds. Denver also had hits with “Annie’s Song” and “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” among others.
In 1977, he even moved into film, co-starring with George Burns in the comedy hit “Oh, God!” Denver was a pilot, and died at 53 years of age when his personal aircraft crashed on Oct. 12, 1997.
Vigil’s career in paying tribute to John Denver began in 2006.
“I entered a singing contest in Laughlin, Nev., at the Tropicana Hotel,” said Vigil of the 2006 “Talent Quest” contest. “I did ... ‘Annie’s Song’ and I got a standing ovation.” Vigil said. “So I thought, ‘This is working.’ It was not an impersonator contest. I was just singing the best that I could.”
For the Rialto show, Vigil will perform the John Denver hits.
“We do ‘Annie’s Song’ and ‘Sunshine on My Shoulder.’ We have to play those,” Vigil said. “In the show, Steve talks about his time on the road with John.”
And it was Steve Weisberg that gave Vigil a tip early on in Vigil’s tribute career.
“After I won the ‘Talent Quest’ contest, I started to study John Denver videos, trying to imitate how he sang the songs,” Vigil said. “He once said, ‘I color my words with emotion,’ and I kind of picked up on that.
“Then I met Steve Weisberg,” Vigil continued, “and we decided to start doing shows together. Steve said to me, ‘You’re trying too hard.’ And he was right. For me, trying to sound like John Denver was more difficult than just being myself.”