Monday, November 30, 2009

If Walls Could Talk...

One of the more interesting vestiges of rock history is a little known ranch high in the rockies outside the small hamlet of Nederland, CO (not far from Boulder). In the early 70s, producer James William Guercio, purchased the Caribou Ranch. He converted the barn into a recording studio that was heavily used throughout the seventies starting with Joe Walsh's Barnstorm album up into the mid-80s when a fire sadly destroyed the studio. At that point Guercio had largely retired from the music industry and opted not to rebuild.

In its day however the Caribou Ranch had the likes of artists as varied as Chicago, to Stevie Nicks to Billy Joel, to Elton John (in particular his Caribou album, which was named after the ranch where it was recorded), to Phil Collins... The list of notable musicians who recorded there goes on to include the likes of Emerson Lake & Palmer, Jeff Beck, Chick Corea, Deep Purple, Rick Derringer, Dio, Al Di Meola, Earth Wind & Fire, Dan Fogleberg, Amy Grant, Carole King, Supertramp, Kris Kristofferson, Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, the Sons of Champlin, America, The Beach Boys, Blood Sweat & Tears, and a handful of others.

In the 70s, Dick Clark even filmed 2 specials at the ranch-- 1974's Meanwhile Back at the Ranch which featured Chicago, Anne Murray, and Charlie Rich and 1975's In the Rockies which featured Chicago and Al Green. Being a fan of Chicago I've stumbled upon and saved both specials to my hard drive. They're both interesting glimpses into the 70s-- especially Meanwhile Back at the Ranch which still has the commercials for Dr. Pepper, Levi's Jeans, and Kodak Super-8 video cameras.

With the popularity of classic rock, I'm surprised that a movie or feature length documentary has not yet been made about the Caribou given the breadth of musicians who recorded there and the place it holds in rock and roll history.

Looking over the list of albums recorded there, my favorites are:

Chicago XI
Chicago VII
Supertramp Even In the Quietest Moments
Elton John Caribou
Trillion s/t

For a much more in-depth and intriguing article on the Caribou Ranch click here.


drewzepmeister said...

I've heard of this place somewhere. Of course, I had to jar my memory. From the looks it, It would be a nice and quiet place to record an album.

classicrockforthesoul said...


I had no idea about this ranch, and I'm a hardcore Stevie Nicks fan. So that's sayin' something.
I wonder what work she did there... hmm gives me something to look around for!

Kevin Moriarity said...

Curtis Mayfield's recording studio was about 2 blocks from my parent's house in Chicago. This was in the 70s (he moved Curtom Studios to Atlanta in 1980). Unfortunately, even though I was a musician in my teen years, I had no idea what it was until I was quite a bit older. It was a non-descript brick building. I'm a Curtis Mayfield fan and I would have loved to peek in there if I had known.