John Denver wrote the song “Leaving on a Jet Plane” in 1966, for the movie Take Me Home: The John Denver Story and it was famously recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary. The song’s original title was ‘Oh Babe I Hate To Go,’ but Denver’s producer, Milt Okun, persuaded him to change it. The song was initially recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio in 1967, followed by Spanky and Our Gang later that year.
The song was first issued on Peter, Paul, and Mary’s 1967 album 1700, but it was not a hit until it was released as a single in 1969. It was their biggest (and final) hit, debuting at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.
This was the second-to-last number one hit of the 1960s. The song also spent three weeks at the top of the easy listening chart. As a result, many listeners mistakenly concluded that the song showed a soldier bidding farewell to his sweetheart before marching off to battle because it reached number one during the height of the Vietnam War. In reality, Denver wrote the song as a lament about how tough it is for a touring musician to say goodbye to his sweetheart whenever he had to leave town. ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane,’ despite the appropriate feelings expressed, has nothing to do with the Vietnam War.
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist, and philanthropist best recognized for his solo work. After growing up in a military family and traveling to several locations, Denver began singing with folk music bands in the late 1960s. Beginning in the 1970s, he was one of the most well-known and best-selling acoustic artists of the era. According to AllMusic, Denver was ‘among the most beloved artists of his day’ by 1974 and was ‘among the best-selling acts in America.’