Denver's opening act during these shows was a husband/wife duo called Fat City with Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. Danoff also was doing double duty, playing guitar for Denver, who'd hurt his hand the night before.
Toward the end of the night, after the last set, Denver and his band came back out to do an encore. He said, "We're going to do a song Bill and Taffy brought me this week, that we've been working on all week and I'm going to record it on my new album. We hope it's something you like."
"And then they went into 'Country Roads,'" Ridenour said. "It was the first time the song had been performed publicly."
Ridenour said the crowd went wild.
The song launched Denver toward eventual superstardom, but Danoff and Nivert had some success of their own after they formed the Starland Vocal Band, best known for the pop hit "Afternoon Delight."
Danoff also continued to write songs for Denver and other artists.
Years later, Ridenour booked Danoff on "Mountain Stage." Backstage, Ridenour asked him when he knew "Country Roads" was going to be a hit.
Danoff told him, "You know, that first night we did it. We performed live in this little club in D.C. and the place went nuts."
Ridenour told him it probably helped that the front table had a couple of West Virginians sitting there.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.