Bill Danoff Sings "Country Roads" at Huggins Fish Fry - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Bill Danoff Sings "Country Roads" at Huggins Fish Fry

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MORGANTOWN -

Bob Huggins hosted his third annual Fish Fry at Mylan Park Friday night before his West Virginia basketball team took on – and defeated – Kansas State.

The guest of honor at the event was a man whose name and face many may not recognize, but his words are etched into the heads and the hearts of West Virginians and people around the world who have heard them.

Bill Danoff wrote the lyrics to "Take Me Home, Country Roads," the song made famous by John Denver before it became an icon in the Mountain State. Danoff and Denver came to Morgantown to perform the song before the first game at the new Mountaineer Field back in 1980.

"They helicoptered us each out onto the field and we met and we went into some side room where the concrete was still wet," Danoff said Friday night. "We tuned our guitars and came onto the field and they did the Star-Spangled Banner and we played Country Roads."

Danoff recalls WVU getting the 41-27 victory over Cincinnati that day in front of more than 50,000 Mountaineer fans. Now that he has the chance to return to Morgantown, he sees firsthand the impact his words had on the fan base that has so embraced them.

"I must have met half of the 50,000 people that were at the stadium that day," Danoff said with a laugh. "Anybody I've run into says, ‘I was there that day.' I say, ‘I was, too.'"

One memorable moment for WVU fans that Danoff didn't attend, but was well aware of, was the Mountaineers' Big East Tournament Championship back in 2010. West Virginia defeated Danoff's alma mater, Georgetown, in the title game and as the team and its fans celebrated, Country Roads played over the speaker system.

Danoff, watching from home, caught some heat from his fellow Hoyas who recognized the connection.

"All of Madison Square Garden stood up and the Hoyas had to wait until the song was over to leave," Danoff recalled. "I said, look, if someone gives you a hard time, just tell them that the guy who wrote that song is a Hoya."

In the years since he and his wife-to-be, Taffy Nivert, penned Country Roads, they have come to recognize just how much its words stayed with those who heard them. Danoff has heard many stories of West Virginians traveling all across the globe and having the words to his song recited back to them from people who may not even speak English.

"I thought for years about doing sort of a coffee table book of stories that people have brought home to me, starting with back in the Vietnam War when the song was a hit and it was very popular with the troops over there because it mentioned coming home. It didn't particularly apply to West Virginia; it applied to coming home, period. It meant a lot to a lot of people around the world, but I've become especially aware of what it means to West Virginians," said Danoff.

The song was released in 1971 and all these years later, his involvement in making it the hit it was is still a point of pride. The opportunity to perform it in front of hundreds of Mountaineer fans Friday night was special to Danoff.

"It's an incredible feeling. It's certainly unpredictable," Danoff said of what the song has become. "When we were working on the song, we thought we had a pretty good song and we thought it might be a hit record, but I had no idea it would have this sort of longevity. Frankly, if people knew it a year or two later, I would have been happy."

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