Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He had 33 albums and singles that were certified Gold and Platinum in the U.S by RIAA certification with estimated sales of more than 33 million units. He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country music, the Billboard Hot 100, and adult contemporary, in all earning 12 gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", "Rocky Mountain High", "Calypso", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", and "Sunshine on My Shoulders".
Denver appeared in several films and television specials during the 1970s and 1980s, including the 1977 hit Oh, God!, where he starred alongside George Burns. He continued to record in the 1990s, also focusing on environmental issues as well as lending vocal support to space exploration and testifying in front of Congress in protest against censorship in music. He lived in Aspen for much of his life where he was known for his love of Colorado. In 1974, Denver was named poet laureate of the state. The Colorado state legislature also adopted "Rocky Mountain High" as one of its two state songs in 2007.
An avid pilot, Denver died at the age of 53 in a single-fatality crash while piloting his recently purchased light plane.