Local fundraiser relives night Denver rocked Music Bowl
CHERIE Weatherall still remembers the night of November 23, 1994 when she was country icon John Denver's personal chauffeur for his performance at the Rockhampton Music Bowl.
It was the night of Carols By Candlelight, and with the help of Ross James and his connections in the music industry, the famous singer was signed on as the event's highlight performance.
Ms Weatherall, who then worked for a local limousine company, received a call Denver would need a lift to the Ambassador Hotel and to the event.
"He had another fellow with him and I took him to his hotel, drove him to the Music Bowl and he performed,” she said of the musician who died in 1997.
"He did his vocal exercises in the back.”
After the Christmas festivities, Denver took to the stage and the lyrics of his famous song Take Me Home, Country Roads rang out across the Rocky amphitheatre.
Afterwards, all he wanted was to head back to his room.
A long-time fan of the Annie's Song singer, Ms Weatherall was thrilled to get the chance to give Denver a small taste of the Beef Capital, despite his tight schedule.
"He asked me about mangoes and I took him a case because we had a mango plantation,” she said.
"He also gave me a book he wrote to thank me for the mangoes and we talked for some time at the airport.
"He was a very nice, gentle, unassuming person. You can just tell by the words of his music, he was a gentle person.
"When I dropped him back at the airport I said to my friends 'don't touch my hands, John Denver held them'.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something Ms Weatherall believed would never happen again in Rockhampton unless something was done to save the deteriorating 30-year-old Music Bowl structure.
After years of discussion about selling or demolishing the site, Ms Weatherall is determined to bring the Music Bowl back to its glory for future generations to enjoy.
She plans to approach the council for permission to fundraise for the Bowl's $450,000 maintenance and renovation.
Karen Knowles, Normy Rowe, INXS, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon English, Peter Cupples, Kenny Rogers and Midnight Oil have also graced the stage there.
Ms Weatherall said with the Music Bowl's prospects dwindling, Rockhampton was missing out on big acts.
"We miss out on a lot of things here that go to Mackay because nobody has the initiative to do what needs to be done,” she said.
"There could be concerts here. We could use it for lots of things.
"We had Carols By Candlelight there last year which was beautiful.
"It's built like an amphitheatre so you can sit anywhere on the top and bottom and be able to see.”
Carols By Candlelight is expected to return to the Music Bowl this year.
"They're not tearing it down yet, but in the future, the cost of taking it back to first class might mean they have to demolish it,” Ms Weatherall said.
"It just needs a little TLC.”