A selection of albums recorded or mixed at Caribou Ranch:
"Barnstorm," Joe Walsh, 1972
"Chicago VI," Chicago, 1973
"Caribou," Elton John, 1974
"Chicago VII," Chicago, 1974
"Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy," Elton John, 1975
"That's the Way of the World," Earth Wind & Fire, 1975
"One Size Fits All," Frank Zappa, 1975
"Illegal Stills," Stephen Stills, 1976
"Hideaway," America, 1976
"A Night on the Town," Rod Stewart, 1976
"Wired," Jeff Beck, 1976
"Even in the Quietest Moments," Supertramp, 1977
"Simple Things," Carole King, 1977
"Pacific Ocean Blue," Dennis Wilson, 1977
"Nether Lands," Dan Fogelberg, 1977
"L.A. (Light Album)," The Beach Boys, 1979
"To the Bone," Kris Kristofferson, 1981
"Youngblood," Carl Wilson, 1983
A recording for "Bad," Michael Jackson, 1984
"Unguarded," Amy Grant, 1985
Source: Rocky Mountain News
A piece of music history that sits in Boulder's backyard is for sale.
Music producer James W. Guercio is selling the remainder of Caribou Ranch near Nederland -- including the historic recording studio that hosted artists such as Elton John, Chicago, John Lennon, The Beach Boys, U2 and Michael Jackson -- for $45 million, according to an online property listing.
Breckenridge-based Mountain Marketing Associates listed Guercio's 1,600-acre portion of the land.
Guercio has owned the property since 1971, when he purchased more than 4,000 acres for $11.3 million. Guercio, producer for the band Chicago, converted a barn to serve as a music studio where pop and rock royalty produced best-selling albums.
"The writing and recording that took place at the Caribou recording studio resulted in sales of over 100 million albums," Mountain Marketing Associates officials wrote in the listing. "The ratio of albums recorded here that charted or went multi-platinum was possibly the highest in the industry."
After a fire, the studio shuttered in 1985.
In recent decades, Guercio sold more than 2,600 acres to the city of Boulder and Boulder County for $15.5 million. The city and county established open space neighboring Guercio's property and later paid $7.7 million for rights allowing for certain conservation easements on the site.
According to the listing by Mountain Marketing Associates, development rights on the 1,600 acres include the potential for 19 single-family dwellings ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 square feet; a 5,000-square-foot fishing lodge or clubhouse; a 12-stall horse barn; two 1,250-square-foot cabins; and a 3,372-square-foot caretaker's unit.
The site now houses a home, lodge, cabins, barns, the commercial recording studio and outbuildings.
"A conservation easement protects and enhances the ranch while providing the opportunity to construct additional improvements in various locations and in a manner that respects the character of the land," according to the listing.
Officials for Caribou Ranch and Mountain Marketing Associates were not available for comment.
The first 'destination' studio
Caribou Ranch was known as something of a "musical Shangri-La."
While other studios were anchored amid the hustle and bustle of cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, the state-of-the-art facility at Caribou Ranch was nestled in an idyllic, lush valley and enveloped by calmness and crisp mountain air.
The property that became Caribou Ranch was homesteaded in the 1860s by Sam Conger, who later discovered Caribou Mine.
At one point in time, the property served as the largest privately owned Arabian stud farm.
Four motion pictures, including the 1966 remake of "Stagecoach," were filmed on the ranch, which landed in the hands of Guercio -- then a young Chicagoan known for producing for bands such as Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears -- in the early 1970s.
Guercio told the Rocky Mountain News in 2008 that he was growing frustrated by how the union rules were affecting how he was producing music in New York and L.A. and that he sought a refuge to foster the creative process.
While stranded at Denver's Stapleton Airport in 1969 with Texas entrepreneur Layton Humphrey, Guercio recalled a ranch previously owned by his uncle, according to the Rocky Mountain News article. That ranch, Guercio said, became part of a subdivision called the Caribou Ranch Country Club Estates.
Guercio would buy the property two years later.
Guercio and crew were still in the process of converting an old barn to a music studio when Joe Walsh, who had just formed the band Barnstorm, popped by Caribou Ranch. The eponymous "Barnstorm" was the first album cut at Caribou.
During the following years, the ranch attracted the likes of Elton John -- whose album "Caribou" was named after the ranch -- as well as Stephen Stills, Dan Fogelberg, Supertramp, Billy Joel and The Beach Boys.
Chicago would record five albums there and film a couple of TV specials.
Caribou Ranch was the first "destination" studio, said G. Brown, the Denver Post's music critic for 26 years.
"That's really the context for Caribou," Brown said. "It's certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, part of our music cultural history."
Ranch was 'almost too nice to record'
Caribou Ranch was isolated, but the bands had the run of the place, which boasted a gourmet kitchen, an extensive video library and plenty of activities such as snowmobiling, horseback riding and fly-fishing, Brown said.
John McEuen, a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, told the Daily Camera in 1985 that sometimes "it was almost too nice to record."
"We'd be standing around the studio asking, 'Where's the harmonica player?' -- 'He's fishing.' 'What about the bass player, can you get him off that horse?' 'Will the singer be through swimming in time to do these overdubs?'" McEuen told the Camera at the time.
After enjoying a heyday in the 1970s, Caribou Ranch gained competition as other destination studios were built in castles or on islands, Brown said.
The recording and mixing continued at Caribou up until the mid-1980s. The last artists to record there included Michael Jackson, Amy Grant and Yes, according to Camera archives.
On March 2, 1985, a space heater sparked a fire that would extinguish Caribou Ranch's studio operations.
Caribou Ranch was an integral element in the music of the 1970s and the growth of Colorado's music scene, Brown said.
To honor that heritage, Caribou Ranch will join Joe Walsh and Dan Fogelberg as members of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.
Caribou Ranch also is the subject of a feature film now in the pre-production stages.
Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or email@example.com.