Many thanks for your interesting question.
When John was 22 he met Annie (Ann Marie) Martell while hanging out
with some students after a gig in Minnesota. Two years later, in June
1967, they married.
That relationship is celebrated in 'Annie's Song' and other songs
written as a tribute to the woman he loved. Sadly, things changed.
One challenge was fertility issues. John proved to have a low sperm
count and eventually the couple adopted two children: Zachary, born
1974, and Anna Kate, born 1978. Later things got really bad. Some
people have suggested that he was often unkind; one commentator
describes him as "unremittingly cruel".
Denver himself admitted that he once became violent and abusive,
perhaps as a result of drinking. He got to the stage of nearly
strangling Annie but managed to recover self-control. They divorced in
1983 but remained friends and, despite the difficult times, Annie has
always been very loyal in her public remarks, calling him "fearless",
and, of course, she found his death very distressing. You may want to
know that she is now a psychologist in Aspen.
There is one tiny picture of Annie with John on an album cover at:
A review of his autobiography (on Amazon.com) describes him as an
"awkward, insecure loner fighting the demons of his relationships with
his father, his wife, and his agent, to name three" and he obviously
didn't find love and marriage ran smoothly, despite his high ideals.
After the divorce from Annie there is no suggestion of any important
relationship before he met Cassie or Cassandra Delaney, a singer and
actress. This was during an Australian tour in 1986. Two years later
they married and a year later Cassandra gave birth to their daughter,
Jesse Belle, a wonderful surprise in view of John's fertility
problems. But by 1996 there was another divorce, said to be quite
There are many pictures of John and Cassandra together at:
Cassandra was less popular with the fans than Annie especially after
his death when she took legal action to try and reduce the amount of
money the two children from his first marriage would inherit.
But his manager insists that he was truly in love with her. A fan at
alt.net.john-denver posted this quote from People magazine, October
"It took him a while to get over the divorce from Cassie," says Kris
Denver's road manager for 27 years. "He was very much in love with
But they were getting along again, and they shared joint custody of
Here you'll find info tying together the course of his marriages and
the music that runs alongside:
"In 1967 John married Anne ..... wrote
'Annie's Song' and many other beautiful love songs for her. ....True
love did not go so smoothly, however, and John and Annie were divorced
in 1982. Several
years later John married Cassandra Delaney of Australia. You can
this metamorphosis on John's albums, since John's earlier albums are
a tribute to Annie. The two of them are shown together on the cover
'Back Home Again.' When little Zachary came into their lives, that
also chronicled in song on such albums as 'Rocky Mountain Christmas'
John's marriage to Cassandra Delaney is also shown on the albums
since she sang on several of his albums and appeared in a video with
as well. Listen to the album HIGHER GROUND (1988) to hear Cassandra
songs 'Home Grown Tomatoes', 'Whispering Jesse', 'Bread and Roses' and
'Alaska and Me.' On the album THE FLOWER THAT SHATTERED THE STONE
she sings on the song 'High, Wide and Handsome'. That same year on
album CHRISTMAS LIKE A LULLABY, John mentions celebrating Christmas in
Australia. During their marriage John and Cassandra had a baby
they named her Jesse Belle. The album, THE FLOWER THAT SHATTERED THE
STONE is dedicated to Jesse Belle. "
The next quote not only sums up what a lot of fans feel about John's
life and relationships but also comes from a website which may give
you more information:
"The big surprise is that John's life has been far
from idyllic, far removed from the image his followers have of
what his lifestyle must have been like over the past years.
He's human; he's faced the same types of problems and
challenges that we all have."
So, I hope that helps answer your question. As you'll probably have
seen, many John Denver sites concentrate more on his music than his
personal life. If you want to read more, perhaps you'd like to check
out his autobiography from your library:
"Take me Home" by John Denver, Harmony Press (1994)
If you need any clarification, please let me know. It's been a
pleasure to research this for you.
Regards - Leli
The "unremittingly cruel" quote from:
review of TV movie based on his autobiography:
read what the fans who have followed every news story have to say at:
"john denver" marriage, wife, relationships
then, "annie martell" and "cassandra delaney"