The famed Caribou Ranch recording studio in the foothills near Nederland will be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame this August with a long-in-the-works tribute concert featuring Garth Brooks and fellow inductee — and onetime Boulder resident — Joe Walsh.

The studio, built in a barn by Jim Guercio in 1971 and used by Chicago, Elton John, U2, Michael Jackson and more, will be inducted alongside Walsh and his band Barnstorm, as well as the late singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg.

Also in the music hall's Class of 2017: Denver jazz masters Dianne Reeves, Charles Burrell, Bill Frisell and Ron Miles, as well as Earth, Wind & Fire members — and classmates at Denver's East High School — Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Andrew Woolfolk.

The band Chicago performs at Caribou Ranch outside Nederland in 1974 while being filmed for one of the group’s TV specials.
The band Chicago performs at Caribou Ranch outside Nederland in 1974 while being filmed for one of the group's TV specials. (Charlie Wendt / Camera file photo)

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame on Monday announced it will host an induction concert called "The Rocky Mountain Way" on Aug. 13 — Fogelberg's birthday — at Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre in Greenwood Village.

Performers on the bill include Brooks, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Buffalo Springfield's Richie Furay, Alabama's Randy Owen, Michael Martin Murphey and more.

Walsh, who played in the James Gang and the Eagles, will perform alongside Kenny Passarelli and Joe Vitale in the reunited Barnstorm. The group's 1972 album, "Barnstorm," was the first recorded at Caribou Ranch.


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The evening will feature a special performance of Barnstorm's "The Rocky Mountain Way," which will be filmed by PBS for its concert series "Soundstage."

Long time coming

This year's class marks the seventh group of Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductees. Past years honored Boulder's Glenn Miller, Judy Collins, John Denver, concert promoter Barry Fey and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which is home to the hall of fame's historical exhibits.

The induction of Fogelberg, Walsh and Barnstorm and Caribou Ranch is years in the making. In 2013, organizers told the Daily Camera the two musicians and the studio would be inducted as members of the Class of 2014. Later press coverage references plans to induct them in 2015.

Phil Lobel, a publicist for the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, said the delay in inducting Fogelberg, Walsh and Caribou Ranch was so that the event could be coordinated with the completion and release of a new Fogelberg tribute album. That collection is expected out around Thanksgiving.

"Some things are worth waiting for," Lobel wrote in an email.

'The most crazy experiment'

August's concert will come about three years after Guercio and his family sold the 1,600-acre Boulder County property for $32.5 million — and more than three decades after a fire ended the studio's 1970s and '80s heyday. The buyer is part of the Walton family, descendents of the founders of Walmart.

In 2013, Guercio told the Camera that his first sight of the Caribou Ranch property in the Boulder County foothills "was a spiritual experience."

A photo of Jim Guercio working on the soundboard during Caribou Ranch’s heyday outside of Nederland.
A photo of Jim Guercio working on the soundboard during Caribou Ranch's heyday outside of Nederland. (File photo)

It took three years of legal wrangling and negotiations, but, in 1971, he was able to build a studio getaway he hoped would appeal to musicians.

"It was the most crazy experiment," Guercio said. "Everybody said, 'No one will come up there. What are you, nuts?'"

But they did come. First, it was Walsh and his post-James Gang band Barnstorm. Then, over the next 14 years, Caribou Ranch hosted more than 150 acts ranging from Stephen Stills and Elton John to Billy Joel, the Beach Boys and Blood, Sweat & Tears.

That ranch above Boulder became the first "destination" studio.

John McEuen, a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, told the 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?'"

When the property was put up for sale in 2013, the hall of fame's G. Brown called the studio "certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, part of our music cultural history."

Tickets to the 2017 Colorado Music Hall of Fame's induction concert are $25 to $125 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

The Denver Post contributed to this report.

Matt Sebastian: 303-473-1350, sebastianm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mattsebastian