Bevan Gardiner, with guide dog Denim, gets ready for his
lead role in the John Denver tribute Whisper the Wind.
Dunedin musician Bevan Gardiner turns 21 today, but he
has already been given the best present he could imagine.
The partially-sighted John Denver fan is about to take the
lead role in an international show on Denver's life and
The world premiere of Whisper the Wind opens in Dunedin next
"It's a really big thing for me. I've never done anything
like this before," the former Logan Park High School pupil
"It's challenging, but it's going to be a fantastic
"I've been a big John Denver fan for about 14 years . . . He
has a crystalline quality to his voice and he sings songs
from the heart."
Gardiner travelled to Aspen, Colorado, last year for the 10th
annual John Denver Tribute Week, where he met Denver's
mother, Irma Deutschendorf, and brother, Ron Denver.
"They were great people. His brother's a really hard case."
Gardiner has been partially-sighted since birth.
"I've got between 5% and 10% vision, so I can see colours and
outlines of people, but that's about it. But it's never
stopped me from doing what I want to do," he said.
"Someone takes me on and off stage, but we're going to
experi-ment with a set of rope lights going to the
microphone. Once I'm at the mike, I get a feel for where
Gardiner has won awards for the past three years at the Gold
Guitar Awards and Country Music Awards of Australia singing
the Denver songs My Sweet Lady and Whispering
He has lived all his life in Dunedin and is studying for a
bachelor of music degree at the University of Otago.
He has a guide dog, Denim.
Gardiner has been rehearsing for Whisper the Wind over
the past week with six international musicians.
The show features 25 of Denver's songs and family footage of
the singer edited at TaylorMade Productions in Dunedin.
Promoter Dennis Brown said United States promoters had been
"astounded" by the similarity between Gardiner and Denver.
"We sent Denver's long-time business partner, Harold Thau, a
tape of Bevan singing and John singing and said 'which one is
John Denver?' He said 'What are you talking about? They're
both John Denver'."
Denver died on October 12, 1997, when the aircraft he was
piloting along the California coast crashed into the Pacific
Ocean off Monterey Bay in California. He was 53.
Whisper the Wind opens at the Regent Theatre on
Saturday, September 20.