After dropping out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dan Fogelberg set out for Los Angeles, but he ran out of money in Estes Park. Finding inspiration in Colorado, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist subsequently bought a Nederland spread from original Byrds member Chris Hillman, and his initial time there resulted in the songs for his next album, Nether Lands (1977). Best known for his hits “Longer,” “Leader of the Band” and “Same Old Lang Syne,” Fogelberg was reclusive by nature. Later, the platinum-selling artist preferred to remain secluded on the ranch he had purchased near Pagosa Springs.
Joe Walsh & Barnstorm
In November 1971, Joe Walsh left the James Gang and relocated to Colorado, forming a new group called Barnstorm with bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer Joe Vitale and releasing an album of the same name. Passarelli and Vitale would also be the core backing band members for the follow-up The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973), Walsh’s commercial breakthrough. The record cracked the Top Ten on the strength of the hit “Rocky Mountain Way,” which was inspired by Walsh’s move to Colorado. After 1974’s So What, Barnstorm disbanded and Walsh continued as a solo artist.
Caribou Ranch, a major recording studio throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, was built by producer James William Guercio on ranch property in the Rocky Mountains near Nederland. Over the years, Caribou hosted 178 artists including such legends as the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Frank Zappa, Joe Walsh, Chicago, Stephen Stills and Michael Jackson, producing records that sold in excess of 100 million copies combined. Elton John’s 1974 album Caribou was named after the studio. Cariibou Ranch was in operation until the control room suffered extensive fire damage in March 1985.