CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Andy Ridenour, co-creator and former executive producer of "Mountain Stage," remembers well the first time he ever heard John Denver sing "Country Roads." It was the first time the song was played in public.
He and some school friends from Concord College had gone to see Denver perform at the famous Cellar Door club in Washington, D.C.
"It was in between semesters, the holiday break," Ridenour said. "Three or four of my friends from Concord came to my home in D.C., where I grew up, and we hooked up with a couple of my D.C. friends."
Ridenour said the show at the Cellar Door was the second time he'd seen Denver perform. A few months before, Denver had played Concord.
"That was in October or November of 1970," he said. "At the time, John Denver's biggest claim to fame was he wrote 'Leaving on a Jet Plane.'"
The song was a No. 1 hit for folk group Peter, Paul and Mary.
But Ridenour and company were impressed with Denver so they made plans to see him again.
"We saw him on his last night at the Cellar Door," he said.
Ridenour added that he and his seven friends came early and they got a table close to the stage.
"At the time, he was playing three shows a night and we sat through all three." He laughed. "We were having a good time."