“Leaving on a Jet Plane” is a song written by John Denver in 1966 and most famously recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. The original title of the song was “Babe, I Hate to Go” but Denver’s then producer Milt Okun convinced him to change the title.
The song was initially recorded in 1966 by John Denver with the title “Babe, I Hate to Go.” That same year, Denver chose this song along with fifteen others and, with his own money, had 250 copies pressed onto vinyl. He distributed the copies to friends and family. Vocal group Peter, Paul and Mary were so impressed with the song that they chose to record it themselves and released it on their 1967 Album 1700. However, it didn’t become a hit for them until they released it as a single in 1969.
It turned out to be Peter, Paul and Mary’s biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. The song also spent three weeks atop the easy listening chart and was used in commercials for United Airlines in the late 1970s. The song also topped the charts in Canada, and reached #2 in both the UK Singles Chart and Irish Singles Chart in February 1970.
John Denver recorded his own version of the song for his debut solo album, Rhymes & Reasons, and re-recorded it in 1973 for John Denver’s Greatest Hits. His version was featured in the end credits of The Guard.