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Home » Take Me Home, Country Roads – She Wrote It And Sang On It, But You’ve Never Heard Of Her

Take Me Home, Country Roads – She Wrote It And Sang On It, But You’ve Never Heard Of Her

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Taffy Nivert is her name.

She and Bill Danoff made up the folk group “Fat City”, later to become “Bill and Taffy”, which played in the Washington, D.C. area, where Danoff attended Georgetown University.

One night in 1970 they shared the bill at a folk club called the Cellar Door with John Denver, who’d just released his third album, called “Whose Garden Was This?”

After opening night, the three piled into Bill’s car and headed back to his place for an impromptu jam. On the way, there was a car crash, in which John’s thumb was broken. He was taken to the hospital, where a splint was applied.

By the time the three of them got back to Bill’s house, Denver was, in his own words, “wired, you know”. Bill and Taffy told him about a song they’d been working on for about a month.

The inspiration had come while they were driving to a family reunion of Taffy’s relatives in Maryland. To pass the time en route, Bill had made up a ballad about the little winding roads they were taking. Later, he changed the story to fit that of an artist friend who used to write Bill about the splendors of the West Virginia countryside.

The original second verse of the tune was quite risque, making reference to nude women and such – so Bill and Taffy figured their song would never ever get played on the radio.

Anyway, they sang it for Denver, who recalled, “I flipped.”

The three of them stayed up until 6 a.m., changing words and moving lines around. When they finished, Denver announced that the song had to go on his next album.

The three of them debuted the song at the Cellar Door in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. on December 30, 1970.

Released in the spring of 1971, the new song broke slowly, moving up the charts very deliberately. RCA called Denver after a couple weeks and told him they were giving up on the single. He told them, absolutely not.

By August “Take Me Home, Country Roads” had become a million seller and was on its way to the iconic status it still enjoys.

Bill and Taffy toured with Denver and sang on his albums in the early 70s. In 1974, they added a singer named Margot Chapman and a teenaged piano player/vocalist named Jon Carroll and formed the Starland Vocal Band.

Yep – “Afternoon Delight”, a monster #1 hit in 1976, was a product of the very same collaboration of Bill and Taffy that launched Denver into superstardom.

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  • HW Saxton

    A great reggae version of this tune can
    be found on Toots & The Maytals 1974 LP
    “In The Dark”. It can also be found on
    some of the UK import versions of Toots
    CLASSIC LP “Funky Kingston”.

  • Eric Olsen

    great story Joe, thanks!

  • Vern Halen

    Jason & the Scorchers scorch Country Roads on their album “Another Blazing Grace.” They also do a howling Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town) featuring a guest appearance by Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites.

    Just like rock ‘n’ roll is s’posed to sound.

  • HW Saxton

    Howdy VH, Great call on “Jason And The
    The Nashville Scorchers”.I had forgotten
    all about them. They had a way with the
    cover songs to be sure.Their 90MPH cover
    of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank
    Williams Sr. is pure Rock ‘n’ Roll to my
    ears. Ditto for the cover of Bob Dylan’s
    “Absolutely Sweet Marie” on their first
    full length disc. The current spate of
    Alt. Country guys could take a couple of
    tips from these guys.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Actually, I’m quite familiar with Taffy Nivert, though I knew her as Taffy Danoff. She, Bill, (of course in Fat City) and John Denver did a lot of work in the Mid-Atlantic area’s folk scene back in the day, and they were much loved around these parts. When “Afternoon Delight” came out, Baltimore-Washingtonian folkies just figured the rest of America was catching up to what we already knew.

  • piperh

    taffy also wrote i guess he’d rather be in colorado,loving you with my eyes,late nite radio,friends with you and is listed as the best kazoo player in the world,she did the vocal arrangements for take me home country roads and fat city and did you know that chris and susan sarandon used to be fat city’s back-up vocalists?

  • Bob Clark

    Great article! It delivers precise information that answers so many questions. The point-by-point explanations, just as each took place, makes an exceptional prenentation. Compare this article with the vague descriptions of people, places and events, plus the incorrect English applied so freely these days. Thanks so much.

    Bob Clark, Iowa

  • TODD ANTONI

    YOUTUBE HAD A VIDEO OF “AFTERNOON DELIGHT” FROM 1976 . ALL 4 WERE SO GOOD LOOKING AND MARGOT WAS WEARING BLUE JEANS AND LOOKING SO FANTASTIC. OF COURSE YOUTUBE TOOK THAT GREAT VIDEO OFF THE WEB AND IT WAS THE BEST. ALL THE STARLAND VOCAL BAND VIDEOS ARE NOT NEARLY AS GREAT AS THAT ONE. THE ONLY VIDEOS ON THE WEB NOW OF STARLAND VOCAL BAND MARGOT CHAPMAN IS WEARING A CONSERATIVE OUTFIT AND THEY ARE OLDER. IT IS A SHAME NOBODY CAN SEE THAT 1976 CONCERT WHERE MARGOT LOOKS HER BEST IN BLUE JEANS.

  • Piperh

    if ya’ll would just visit the Fat city and Starland pages on myspace you could see and hear all the videos and music from both you want to hear

  • TODD ANTONI

    Dear Piper,
    I did’nt know you answered my question. Thanx. I’ll look just like you said. When I first saw that I played it over and over-they all look fantastic. Margot is Hawaiian so she gets noticed and I often wonder: Did’nt she ever try modeling or entering a beaty pageant? No need to reply- you were so helpfull when you answered my question April 12th.

    Dream Weaver

  • TODD ANTONI

    To: Starland Vocal Band
    Bill, Margot, Taffy and John

    I just wanted you to know that the 1970’s band “Orleans” (“dance with me”) just played a concert at the Wyckoff New Jersey YMCA which is surprising. Before “Starland V.B.” Orleans had almost the same popularity as you.
    Also, my uncle is Vince Martel of the “Vanilla Fudge” and I wish you guys could play a gig with the Fudge.
    That would be the coolest concert gig.

    Yours Truly,
    the Dream Weaver
    Closter, New Jersey 07624

  • Len Jaffe

    I was at the Cellar Door the entire week, known casually these days as “Country Roads Week”. The three of them sang that song THREE times within an hour, and a few of us were sure that the club was going to implode. One other thing…John had his twelve-string guitar dropped by a baggage handler at (Reagan) Washington National Airport earlier in the week, and he used mine (almost the same model) that entire week. Nice to know that my guitar had a small part in the proceedings.

  • beatlepants

    I knew Bill and Taffy back then and while that is a nice story, it isn’t true. I remember one night Bill and Taffy sang the song at the Emergency Inc., a small nightclub in Georgetown and said that they were going to play it the next week for John Denver, they had already worked out the “risqué” second verse before Denver ever heard the song, Denver contributed little if anything to “Country Roads”

  • MissingTaffy

    Taffy is one of most talented and attractive women to have graced the music scene … her ability to bring out the very best of whomever she sang with will resonate with me for a lifetime

    I miss her … her voice, her song writing, her presence

  • John

    To beatlepants: you’re mistaken about “Country Roads.” Denver did contribute the bridge to the song. I ran into Bill Danoff during Aspen Memorial 2000 at a teddy bear shop, and told him “I’m glad you allowed John to have credit as the songwriter for Country Roads and he said ‘so am I!!'”

  • Bob Terpstra

    Taffy, I’ve been looking for you for 20 years!
    Bob Terpstra
    [Personal contact info deleted]