News of John Denver's tragic death cast a large shadow over the investigation that followed. You might recall he died in a plane crash in October 1997, but what caused that crash is foggy.

Several simple mistakes were made that afternoon: It's a rare case of witness accounts lining up with what was known about Denver and his plane ahead of time. This week's episode of Secret History of Country Music explores the former Entertainer of the Year winner's death and how it affected his legacy.

Does John Denver deserve to be in either the Rock & Roll or the Country Music Hall of Fame? Would it be more likely if he hadn't died?

Both the video above and podcast explain what happened, before Taste of Country's Billy Dukes and Adison Haager go deeper to answer lingering questions. Denver had two alcohol-related arrests in the years prior — did that play a factor?

How did a design decision impact what happened, and why was he flying without a pilot's license?

Season 2 of Secret History of Country Music is available as a YouTube video podcast or audio-only podcast. Both are above, but you can also find the pod on AppleSpotify or wherever you podcast.

Email with any questions, concerns or suggestions for Season 2.

50 Classic Country Artists Today’s Fans Should Know

Today's country music stars owe a debt of gratitude to the legends who formed and cultivated the genre, starting in the early 20th century. These 50 classic country artists remain relevant today. Some developed a style that's emulated on today's country radio. Others set a bar for vocal talent or songwriting skill.

This list of 50 influential classic country artists features country music singers who started their careers before 1990. It's ranked by each artist's current influence on the country music format today, not individual, lifelong impact. Tell us where we got it right or wrong on Twitter.

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