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Country Rock in the Rockies

Country Rock in the Rockies

Firefall

Singer-songwriter Rick Roberts and guitarist Jock Bartley founded Firefall in the summer of 1974. Roberts had served as a spark for the Flying Burrito Brothers from 1970 to 1972, after Gram Parsons left the band.

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With a few band stints around the Denver/Boulder area under his belt, Bartley took over the lead guitar post of Tommy Bolin in Zephyr in 1971. The following year, he switched over to Parsons’s band, the Fallen Angels (which also featured Emmylou Harris), and met Roberts, whose touring schedule with the Burritos often overlapped with that of Parsons. Mark Andes, the founding bassist of the bands Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, joined with Bartley and Roberts, who began an informal series of jam sessions at his home in Boulder. Roberts thought of a fourth participant he’d met in Washington, D. C.—singer-songwriter Larry Burnett. At Chris Hillman’s suggestion, they added drummer Michael Clarke, an original member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The break came when Roberts, Bartley and Andes toured as Hillman’s backup band. Hillman fell ill during a date at the Other End in New York, and the club owner accepted a proposal to bring Burnett and Clarke into town. Firefall finished out the engagement, and Atlantic Records was sold on the band.

By January 1976, the group had completed recording a debut album with producer Jim Mason, who blended Firefall’s acoustic guitars, mellow pop melodies and vocal harmonies.

A sixth member, David Muse, joined the ranks on keyboards, synthesizers, flute, tenor sax and harmonica.

Firefall reached platinum status, and the singles ”You Are the Woman,” “Livin’ Ain’t Livin’” and “Cinderella” together sold in excess of a million copies. The group notched more hits—”Just Remember I Love You” and “Strange Way”—and two more best-selling albums, Luna Sea and Elan, in the late 1970s. That heady time culminated in an opening slot for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tour in 1977, including a hometown Folsom Field gig before 61,500 Coloradans. Lineup changes followed, and the band ran out of chart momentum.

Inductee Page

Manassas

Searching for some peace from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970, Stephen Stills would fly by Lear jet to decompress at his cabin near Gold Hill in Boulder County. He posed there for the cover photo of his first solo album on September 20, 1970, the morning after he received the news of the death of his friend Jimi Hendrix.

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Stills had been visualizing a group that would bring together rock, folk, Latin, country and blues. He also retained several members of his touring band—Dallas Taylor on drums, bass player Fuzzy Samuels, keyboardist Paul Harris and percussionist Joe Lala. When the Stills-Burritos amalgam—dubbed Manassas—congregated in the studio, something clicked. The 1972 debut double LP Manassas, featuring the singles “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Rock & Roll Crazies,” peaked at No. 4 on the charts. On stage, Manassas gained fame for its nearly three-hour shows that started with an opening rock set, followed by Stills playing solo acoustic, Hillman and Perkins playing bluegrass, and the band then returning for country, more rock and an acoustic finish.

Inductee Page

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Coming out of the fluid California scene of the late 1960s, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit upon a unique Americana style. The combination of Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson’s acoustic guitars and brother-like harmonies with John McEuen’s string wizardry, Jimmie Fadden’s utilitarian prowess and Les Thompson’s mandolin created the sound, and at shows at Denver’s Marvelous Marv’s nightclub in early 1970, the band played to enthusiastic crowds.

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The two musicians consented to take part in recording a selection of traditional country numbers, with the band allowing the spotlight to fall on the old masters who had greatly influenced them. The resulting album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken—an unprecedented, groundbreaking three-LP set, recorded two-track live, with no mixing or overdubs—elicited appreciation from both rock and country listeners. It even earned a gold album, the first for Scruggs, Watson, Maybelle Carter, Jimmy Martin, Roy Acuff and others.

Circle was ultimately inducted into the Library of Congress as “one of America’s most important recordings.”

In 1977, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the first American group selected by the Soviet government to tour the USSR. The band spent a month in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Latvia playing to sold-out audiences, with an estimated 145 million people tuning in to the group’s one-hour performance on Moscow television. The following years saw members come and go. Bob Carpenter, based in Aspen with the band Starwood, became an invaluable addition on keyboards and vocals. The back-to-back hits “Make a Little Magic” and “An American Dream” with Linda Ronstadt were released under the name the Dirt Band.

Inductee Page

Poco

Rusty Young got his musical start in Böenzee Cryque, a Denver-based band that recorded for Uni Records. The double-sided 45 “Still in Love With You Baby” backed with “Sky Gone Gray” went to No. 1 on the hit list of KIMN, Denver’s dominant Top 40 station, in April 1967. On the West Coast, Richie Furay had formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

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In 1968, with Springfield in disarray, Furay and guitarist Jim Messina quickly set about assembling a band of their own. They recruited Young, who called in two buddies from Colorado—drummer George Grantham, also from Böenzee Cryque, and bassist Randy Meisner, who came from a rival band, the Poor. Poco’s Pickin’ Up the Pieces album debuted in 1969, blending sweet country harmonies with a driving rock beat. Then Meisner left and later co-founded the Eagles, and Messina slipped into the band’s bass slot until Timothy B. Schmit signed. After Messina split to form a duo with Kenny Loggins, former Illinois Steam Press guitarist Paul Cotton stepped in. Poco made its reputation as an exciting live act, playing hopeful, optimistic music. The 1971 live album, Deliverin’, was its biggest seller of the era.

In 1971, the bandmembers moved to Colorado.

While walking down a road to his house near Nederland, Furay wrote one of Poco’s most distinctive compositions—1973’s “A Good Feeling to Know,” with the lyrics “Colorado mountains I can see your distant sky.” Frustrated when the crowd-pleasing track failed to generate the expected commercial success, Furay departed the band.

Poco plugged on, recording such classics as Schmit’s “Keep On Tryin’,” Young’s “Rose of Cimarron” and Cotton’s “Indian Summer.” When Meisner left the Eagles, Schmit quit Poco to take his place; Grantham left to live and work in Nashville. With Legend, Poco’s 12th studio album, Young and Cotton cracked the top of the charts. Young wrote and sang on the surprise hit “Crazy Love.” Cotton’s “Heart of the Night” was a second Top 20 hit. Young orchestrated a Poco reunion of the five original members in 1989; Legacy contained the Top 20 hit “Call It Love” and earned a gold record. The team of Young and Cotton carried on until 2010. Young, the Colorado native, has remained the only member who has performed at every Poco gig and played on every Poco recording since the band’s inception.

Inductee Page

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Going Back to Colorado

Exhibit

Going Back to Colorado

Freddi & Henchi

Freddi “Love” Gowdy founded the rhythm and blues/funk band Freddi Love and the Soulsetters in Phoenix in 1965. Marvin “Henchi” Graves (the nickname is a shortened version of “Henchman,” from his days as a collegiate wrestler) joined the band because of his great dancing. With Freddi’s clear, high-voiced vocals and Henchi’s dance moves, they created a groove-laced, falsetto dual-lead-vocal sound that would be copied by Earth Wind & Fire and other funk acts that emerged later in the 1970s.

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Over the years, there were many who became part of the “Crown Princes of Funk” legend, and Marvin “Henchi” Graves was not the only one to pass on.

Soulsetters Bobby Soul, Jessie Escoto, Chuy Castro have also gone on, as have Eppi Guerrero, Arnold “Budgie” Andrews and Roger “Quills” Uyeda.

The Freddi-Henchi Band lost Sonny Abelardo, Eddie “Boom Boom” Washington, Phillip Wakeman, John “Beast” Bailey, Rich Guest, John Olsen, Eddie Costa, Rocky Duarte, Eddie Duarte, Harold Lee and Phil Weightman. Also gone but not forgotten are Larry Wilkins, Tony Bunch, Bob Yeazel, Brad Huff and honorary Crown Prince Alan Roth, who ran the Skunk Creek Inn and Herman’s Hideaway.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct Freddi Gowdy and Henchi Graves in 2019, in recognition of their role as Colorado’s “Crown Princes of Funk.”

The band went through personnel changes in the late ’80s and ’90s after Graves left the group, though he rejoined several times, reuniting Henchi with Freddi. But Graves died on June 12, 2009, after a long battle with cancer. His younger brother, Richard Graves, remembers that he was “an energetic, outgoing person who was a lot of fun to be around,” and adds, “He won’t ever be forgotten by anyone he ever met.”

Freddi Gowdy continues to sing and do commercials; for the past seven years, he’s performed as the co-frontman and vocalist in Chris Daniels & the Kings, working with everybody from Johnnyswim to Garth Brooks, when the Kings backed him at a Fiddler’s Green show in 2018. With the Kings, he’s released two award-winning albums and toured Europe.

Inductee Page

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Wendy Lynn Kale

Wendy Kale was the first journalist to be inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Kale graduated in 1979 but continued to help out at the Program Council. She advised several classes of Council staffers and was considered a mentor. To make ends meet, she took jobs that accommodated her music-dominated schedule, working at CU’s bookstore and registration, and helping out at local entertainment venues.

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Born in New Jersey on March 19, 1953, Kale came west to Boulder in 1971 to attend the University of Colorado, where she studied Communications.

Boulder’s reputation as a hot spot for emerging music and art was the main reason she had selected CU, Kale told friends. She became a regular at Tulagi and the Buff Room on the Hill. She also found a prolific music scene at the school itself, where she saw the Jefferson Airplane, Savoy Brown and the Marshall Tucker Band in Balch Fieldhouse, and Zephyr and B.B. King in the Glenn Miller Ballroom.

Kale soon found her way to the CU Program Council, the group responsible for bringing movies and concerts to campus. She began as a general volunteer, hanging posters, working on production crews, volunteering for security and selling tickets for movie programs. But mostly, she loved the music.

She helped organize free concerts with local musicians and suggested bands for the popular Friday Afternoon Club events at the UMC Grill. In 1976, Phil Lobel became director of the Program Council and hired Kale as PR director. She relished the opportunity to talk with musicians and write press releases; she arranged interviews, coordinated press access and kept guest lists. She also wrote stories for The Entertainer, the Council’s in-house publication, and scoured area venues for emerging talent.

When Stu Osnow took over, he relied on Kale to suggest acts for Program Council events. She selected local talent to open for touring artists, and continued to find musicians for the FAC and other events. Among the bands she championed in their early days were Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Samples, the Subdudes, Chris Daniels & the Kings and 16 Horsepower.

Inductee Page

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Anthony James Spicola

Anthony James Spicola was born in Trinidad, Colorado, on July 24, 1937. At the start of the 20th century, southern Colorado attracted many European immigrants, who came to work in Pueblo’s steel mills and the mines near Trinidad. One of those newcomers was Spicola’s grandfather, who worked on the railroads that hauled the coal and steel.

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As a young man, Anthony Spicola was filled with a love of music, inspired by the records he collected during trips to Denver. His first foray into the music industry was as equipment manager for the Trinidad High School marching band; he graduated from the school in 1955.

Another passion was photography, which not only garnered Spicola national attention (especially his covers for Hot Rod magazine), but allowed him to help regional bands with promotion and marketing materials. His photography work led to music talent management, which in turn led to the world of concert promotion, where he truly shone.

In addition to his promotion work, Spicola opened two clubs in Pueblo: the Fantastic Zoo and Pinocchio’s. Before long, he was putting on concerts with national and international acts at larger venues.

In 1963, he began bringing in now-classic acts, from the Rascals to Ike and Tina Turner and a host of bands that later became part of the British Invasion. In order to accommodate the sell-out crowds these headliners would draw, Spicola turned to larger venues around Colorado Springs. The defining moment of his concert promotion career came on August 18, 1968, when the Who played at a 3,000-seat concert hall in the Springs. The band had flown in from London for its first Colorado appearance; tickets were $5.

“In the ’60s, we all had an affair with music,” Spicola remembers, noting that in addition to the Who, such icons as the Jefferson Airplane, ZZ Top and Fleetwood Mac came to Colorado through his efforts. Twenty of the artists he introduced to the state have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Inductee Page

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Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor was born in Chicago in 1948 but grew up in Denver. His parents were both jazz fans. “My dad worked for the railroad and knew a lot of jazz people. He was a socialist and a real bebopper,” Taylor recalls. His mother loved everything from Etta James to Pat Boone.

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The first instrument Taylor learned to play was the banjo. He initially rejected it for its association with the racist American South, but eventually returned to it after discovering its African roots.

In his youth, Taylor drew inspiration from the Denver Folklore Center, where he first heard the music of Piedmont, Delta, country and Chicago blues artists. He learned to play guitar and harmonica, and started a band called the Butterscotch Fire Department. Later, he formed the Otis Taylor Blues Band.

A brief sojourn in London in the late 1960s garnered Taylor a contract with Blue Horizon Records, but he ultimately parted ways with the label and returned to Boulder, where he played with artists including Tommy Bolin, Zephyr and the Legendary 4-Nikators.

Taylor had dreamed of a project highlighting contemporary black banjo players, and he connected with Keb’ Mo’, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Don Vappie, Guy Davis and Corey Harris for 2008’s groundbreaking Recapturing the Banjo, named Downbeat’s 2009 Blues CD of the Year. Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs scored another win that year.

Over the past ten years, Taylor has released five more albums, his music has been used on various film soundtracks and television shows, and he was included in the inaugural exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A resident of Boulder since 1967, Taylor gives back to his community through his annual Trance Blues Festival, and he and his wife, Carol, created a blues-in-the-schools program called Writing the Blues, which Taylor has taken worldwide.

Otis Taylor is a rare musician who brings depth and honesty to his lyrics and a passionate voice to his music. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct Taylor as part of the Class of 2019.

Inductee Page

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Zephyr

No one who ever saw Candy Givens perform with Zephyr can forget her vocal power or her energetic presence. Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald — veterinarian, comedian and longtime music fan — remembers her as “a force of nature.”

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Whether Zephyr was opening for Jimi Hendrix at the Denver Pop Festival, playing Mammoth Gardens or tearing the roof off the Fillmore West with Jeff Beck, it was the band to see in an incredible era of rock music.

Candy Ramey was born in 1946 and grew up around Evergreen and Golden. Her love of music and powerful voice got her voted “most likely to become a famous singer” in her senior year at Golden High School. She attended the University of Northern Colorado with plans to become a teacher.

But music was her focus, and she ended up in San Francisco, where she made her radio debut playing guitar and singing on a Chinese-language station. A year later, she moved to Aspen and joined the Piltdown Philharmonic Jug Band. She also met David Givens, a songwriter and guitar and bass player. They moved to Boulder with David’s band, Brown Sugar, and were married in October 1968.

Coupled with mismanagement back home, Zephyr never achieved the commercial success that fans thought the band deserved. According to David Givens, promoter Barry Fey turned his attention to Bolin.

David and Candy put together a new lineup and recorded Sunset Ride, a fan favorite. David produced the album and wrote most of the songs. Bolin was replaced on guitar by Jock Bartley, with Michael Wooten on drums. Over the next ten years, Zephyr’s evolving roster would include Otis Taylor, Eddie Turner, Rob Rio, Bobby Berge and others.

Inductee Page

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Tommy Bolin

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, on August 1, 1951, Tommy Richard Bolin was arguably the best guitarist to find a home in the Colorado music scene of the 1970s. When Bolin died of an overdose in 1976, he was on a career path to icon status, with a style that incorporated jazz fusion, rock and elements of pop. His credits include two albums with Zephyr, two solo albums, and two albums with the James Gang; he also collaborated with jazz drummer Billy Cobham and replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. What’s less well known is the work he did with other guitarists, such as Jeff Beck and Albert King, and musicians in bands like Energy and Tommy Bolin’s Dreamers, which included his brother, Johnnie Bolin, bassist Stanley Sheldon, drummer Bobby Berge, vocalist Jeff Cook and singer/keyboardist Max Carl.

Tommy Bolin

Tommy Bolin

Bolin developed his signature powerhouse style in various bands, including Ethereal Zephyr. After a jam session at the Buff Room in Boulder, singer Candy Givens and her husband, David Givens, joined forces with keyboardist and flutist John Faris, drummer Robbie Chamberlin and Bolin to create the blues-rock act Zephyr.

Zephyr began writing music and playing around the state, including at the Sink in Boulder, various University of Colorado venues, and Reed’s Ranch in Colorado Springs. On trips to Phoenix, the musicians connected with acts like Steve Miller, Vanilla Fudge and David Lindley. They played at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom and the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles.

Inductee Page

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Old Folk, New Folk

Old Folk, New Folk

Walt Conley

Born on May 20, 1929, Billy Robinson was adopted by Wallace and Ethel Conley, who raised him in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, as Walter Bell Conley. After his adoptive father died in 1944, Walt and his mother moved to Denver, where he graduated from Manual High School in 1949.

Walt Conley Portraits

Conley Album Art

Conley’s first album, Passin’ Through, came out in 1961 on Premiere Records, a small Denver label. Listen What He’s Sayin’ was released in 1963 on Studio City Records, an independent label out of Minneapolis, where he’d been part of the folk scene for several years.

Between 1966 and 1970, Conley played clubs from California to New York and colleges across the Midwest. When the ’60s folk revival ended, he found work in Hollywood, acting in television and movies. He was also a voiceover actor.

Back in Denver, he opened Conley’s Nostalgia on South Broadway in 1983. He believed there was a place for the music of the past. “Everyone in Denver is serving food, but no one else is serving folk music,” he observed.

At Conley’s, he created a group dedicated to traditional Irish music. “If the band U2 from Ireland can sing American blues,” he noted, “then I sure as hell can sing Irish folk songs!”

He closed the venue in 1987 and released After All These Years under the name Walt Conley & Company. In 1995, he held a fundraiser at the Mercury Cafe for the Rocky Mountain Music Association, a nonprofit group that promoted original music.

Inductee Page

Mother Folkers

According to Denver rock critic and historian Gil Asakawa, seeing the Mother Folkers, aka the MoFos, was “like watching the musical mix-and-match of the Band’s Last Waltz movie, only live, here in Denver.” With all women! Denver Folklore Center founder Harry Tuft always chuckled when repeating the act’s oft-quoted tag line…

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The Mother Folkers were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame at a concert honoring the fortieth anniversary of Swallow Hill Music, which was also inducted. The lineup performing that night included Ellen Audley, Liz Barnez, Bonnie Carol, Angie DeFrancis, Mary Flower, Julie Hoest, Ellen Klaver, Rebecca Leonard, Barb (Morris) Davidson, Suzy Nelson, Eileen Niehouse, Mollie O’Brien, Bonnie Phipps, Pamela Robinson, Carla Sciaky, Deb Schmit-Lobis, Sumi Seacat, Mary Stribling, Vicki Taylor and Nondi (Leonard) Wernick. Bette (White) Rutherford joined the group to accept the award, then enjoyed the concert from the audience.

There is nothing quite like a Mother Folkers concert, which showcases some of the most accomplished and talented women in Colorado folk music today; we are lucky that these musicians call this state home. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct the Mother Folkers as part of the Hall of Fame class of 2019.

Inductee Page

Swallow Hill Music

Swallow Hill Music has a long, impressive history as Denver’s home of roots music: folk, bluegrass, old-time, acoustic, Americana and beyond. The concept grew from an idea that hosting roots-music concerts and teaching people how to play that music could be combined into a nonprofit association.

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Swallow Hill Music has garnered accolades from the El Pomar Foundation, arts awards from the Mayor’s and Governor’s Offices, and numerous Best of Denver honors from Westword newspaper. Musicians and music fans around the country continue to heap praise on the organization.

Founding Mother Folkers member Mary Flower describes Swallow Hill as “an enormous network of friends who have grown together since they worked behind the counter in their early twenties at the old Denver Folklore Center.”

Adds Paul Kashmann, guitar player, former Swallow Hill board member and current Denver City Council representative: “There’s really nothing like Swallow Hill, in that you can literally reach out and touch the performers if you don’t pass them in the hall before the show.”

Folk singer Tish Hinojosa sees Swallow Hill’s growth as “an encouraging sign of the power of acoustic music,” noting that “the intellectual-circle places, like the Northeast, have ongoing music venues that have always presented acoustic and folk music. But in the heart of the country, it’s a little rarer. It’s great that Denver has one.”

SwallowHill at Warren Village

Paul Lhevine, current CEO, is excited about Swallow Hill’s potential: “The future looks even more promising. We continue to attract new audiences while paying homage to our historical roots; we’ve found ways to stay relevant in a quickly changing music scene. Our additional locations are proof-positive that folks want music in their neighborhoods, and our Community Outreach programs ensure that everyone…has an opportunity to learn and grow through music.”

From the early dreams of musicians at the Denver Folklore Center to the award-winning arts organization it has become, Swallow Hill has been a vibrant music resource—not only in Colorado, but across the nation. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct Swallow Hill Music in 2019, and honored to celebrate all of the performers, teachers, volunteers, members and supporters who make it an essential part of this state’s music history.

Inductee Page

Dick Weissman

Richard (Dick) Weissman is an award-winning musician, a songwriter, a historian, an author and an educator. He’s also been a mentor for hundreds, if not thousands, of former students and colleagues.

Dick Weissman: An interview with Paul Epstein

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In 1964, Weissman recorded The Things That Trouble My Mind, which met with considerable success, as did Weissman songs recorded by Gram Parsons and Judy Collins.

After twelve years in New York, Weissman moved to Denver, where he enrolled in the fledgling music business program at the University of Colorado and rekindled his passion for the banjo. The Denver Folklore Center was the hub of the folk and bluegrass community, which at the time included Kim King, Chris Daniels, Nick Forster and Tim O’Brien, among others.

From 1975 to the early ’80s, Weissman played in bands, raised a family, taught at Colorado Women’s College and composed music for films and commercials. In 1979 he recorded an album titled Modern Banjo – Mountain Style. He also wrote a biography about Wesley Westbrook, a black songwriter from Arkansas who wrote several songs for the Staple Singers.

Weissman’s writing career produced over 22 titles, among them instruction books for guitar and banjo. His Folk Music Sourcebook won an ASCAP Music Critics Award. During this time, he also taught at Swallow Hill, performed when he could and began teaching at UCD. He recorded seven more albums between 1990 and 2019.

Inductee Page

Do you love and appreciate the history of music? Head over to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, where you get to learn and enjoy the rich history of music in Colorado.

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Country Rock in the Rockies

Country Rock in the Rockies

Firefall

Singer-songwriter Rick Roberts and guitarist Jock Bartley founded Firefall in the summer of 1974. Roberts had served as a spark for the Flying Burrito Brothers from 1970 to 1972, after Gram Parsons left the band.

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With a few band stints around the Denver/Boulder area under his belt, Bartley took over the lead guitar post of Tommy Bolin in Zephyr in 1971. The following year, he switched over to Parsons’s band, the Fallen Angels (which also featured Emmylou Harris), and met Roberts, whose touring schedule with the Burritos often overlapped with that of Parsons. Mark Andes, the founding bassist of the bands Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, joined with Bartley and Roberts, who began an informal series of jam sessions at his home in Boulder. Roberts thought of a fourth participant he’d met in Washington, D. C.—singer-songwriter Larry Burnett. At Chris Hillman’s suggestion, they added drummer Michael Clarke, an original member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

The break came when Roberts, Bartley and Andes toured as Hillman’s backup band. Hillman fell ill during a date at the Other End in New York, and the club owner accepted a proposal to bring Burnett and Clarke into town. Firefall finished out the engagement, and Atlantic Records was sold on the band.

By January 1976, the group had completed recording a debut album with producer Jim Mason, who blended Firefall’s acoustic guitars, mellow pop melodies and vocal harmonies.

A sixth member, David Muse, joined the ranks on keyboards, synthesizers, flute, tenor sax and harmonica.

Firefall reached platinum status, and the singles ”You Are the Woman,” “Livin’ Ain’t Livin’” and “Cinderella” together sold in excess of a million copies. The group notched more hits—”Just Remember I Love You” and “Strange Way”—and two more best-selling albums, Luna Sea and Elan, in the late 1970s. That heady time culminated in an opening slot for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tour in 1977, including a hometown Folsom Field gig before 61,500 Coloradans. Lineup changes followed, and the band ran out of chart momentum.

Inductee Page

Manassas

Searching for some peace from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970, Stephen Stills would fly by Lear jet to decompress at his cabin near Gold Hill in Boulder County. He posed there for the cover photo of his first solo album on September 20, 1970, the morning after he received the news of the death of his friend Jimi Hendrix.

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Stills had been visualizing a group that would bring together rock, folk, Latin, country and blues. He also retained several members of his touring band—Dallas Taylor on drums, bass player Fuzzy Samuels, keyboardist Paul Harris and percussionist Joe Lala. When the Stills-Burritos amalgam—dubbed Manassas—congregated in the studio, something clicked. The 1972 debut double LP Manassas, featuring the singles “It Doesn’t Matter” and “Rock & Roll Crazies,” peaked at No. 4 on the charts. On stage, Manassas gained fame for its nearly three-hour shows that started with an opening rock set, followed by Stills playing solo acoustic, Hillman and Perkins playing bluegrass, and the band then returning for country, more rock and an acoustic finish.

Inductee Page

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Coming out of the fluid California scene of the late 1960s, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit upon a unique Americana style. The combination of Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson’s acoustic guitars and brother-like harmonies with John McEuen’s string wizardry, Jimmie Fadden’s utilitarian prowess and Les Thompson’s mandolin created the sound, and at shows at Denver’s Marvelous Marv’s nightclub in early 1970, the band played to enthusiastic crowds.

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The two musicians consented to take part in recording a selection of traditional country numbers, with the band allowing the spotlight to fall on the old masters who had greatly influenced them. The resulting album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken—an unprecedented, groundbreaking three-LP set, recorded two-track live, with no mixing or overdubs—elicited appreciation from both rock and country listeners. It even earned a gold album, the first for Scruggs, Watson, Maybelle Carter, Jimmy Martin, Roy Acuff and others.

Circle was ultimately inducted into the Library of Congress as “one of America’s most important recordings.”

In 1977, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the first American group selected by the Soviet government to tour the USSR. The band spent a month in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Latvia playing to sold-out audiences, with an estimated 145 million people tuning in to the group’s one-hour performance on Moscow television. The following years saw members come and go. Bob Carpenter, based in Aspen with the band Starwood, became an invaluable addition on keyboards and vocals. The back-to-back hits “Make a Little Magic” and “An American Dream” with Linda Ronstadt were released under the name the Dirt Band.

Inductee Page

Poco

Rusty Young got his musical start in Böenzee Cryque, a Denver-based band that recorded for Uni Records. The double-sided 45 “Still in Love With You Baby” backed with “Sky Gone Gray” went to No. 1 on the hit list of KIMN, Denver’s dominant Top 40 station, in April 1967. On the West Coast, Richie Furay had formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

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In 1968, with Springfield in disarray, Furay and guitarist Jim Messina quickly set about assembling a band of their own. They recruited Young, who called in two buddies from Colorado—drummer George Grantham, also from Böenzee Cryque, and bassist Randy Meisner, who came from a rival band, the Poor. Poco’s Pickin’ Up the Pieces album debuted in 1969, blending sweet country harmonies with a driving rock beat. Then Meisner left and later co-founded the Eagles, and Messina slipped into the band’s bass slot until Timothy B. Schmit signed. After Messina split to form a duo with Kenny Loggins, former Illinois Steam Press guitarist Paul Cotton stepped in. Poco made its reputation as an exciting live act, playing hopeful, optimistic music. The 1971 live album, Deliverin’, was its biggest seller of the era.

In 1971, the bandmembers moved to Colorado.

While walking down a road to his house near Nederland, Furay wrote one of Poco’s most distinctive compositions—1973’s “A Good Feeling to Know,” with the lyrics “Colorado mountains I can see your distant sky.” Frustrated when the crowd-pleasing track failed to generate the expected commercial success, Furay departed the band.

Poco plugged on, recording such classics as Schmit’s “Keep On Tryin’,” Young’s “Rose of Cimarron” and Cotton’s “Indian Summer.” When Meisner left the Eagles, Schmit quit Poco to take his place; Grantham left to live and work in Nashville. With Legend, Poco’s 12th studio album, Young and Cotton cracked the top of the charts. Young wrote and sang on the surprise hit “Crazy Love.” Cotton’s “Heart of the Night” was a second Top 20 hit. Young orchestrated a Poco reunion of the five original members in 1989; Legacy contained the Top 20 hit “Call It Love” and earned a gold record. The team of Young and Cotton carried on until 2010. Young, the Colorado native, has remained the only member who has performed at every Poco gig and played on every Poco recording since the band’s inception.

Inductee Page

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2000_1 – Classic Folk

Colorado’s Folk Festival

Colorado’s Folk Festival

Judy Collins

Judy Collins claims Colorado as her home state, as her family moved from Seattle to Denver in 1949, when she was 10. Her father was a singer, composer and broadcasting personality, and she appeared as a youngster on his KOA radio program, Chuck Collins Calling. Shortly after arriving in Colorado, Collins began the study of classical piano with Dr. Antonia Brico, a conductor and pianist who devoted her life to fighting prejudice against women in the orchestral world, and she debuted with the Denver Businessmen’s Orchestra when she was just a teenager.

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At last count, Collins had recorded three dozen albums, produced a documentary with director Jill Godmilow about Dr. Brico’s life titled Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman (which earned an Academy Award nomination), written several autobiographical books and a novel, and received numerous humanitarian awards for her work with UNICEF and alcohol-abuse and suicide-prevention programs. She continues to record and perform music worldwide.

Collins had gained her social conscience and the special gift of turning folk songs into art songs.

Her crisp, clear soprano voice electrified audiences, carrying her to New York’s Greenwich Village and on to international fame. Her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, was released in 1961 several months prior to Bob Dylan’s debut record. Collins stayed mainly with readings of traditional material on her early recordings, but she transitioned to singing the music of her contemporaries, bringing a wider audience to Joni Mitchell (“Both Sides Now” was Collins’s first commercial hit, in 1967), Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman. She also became the foremost American interpreter of the French composer Jacques Brel and began to write her own songs. At the close of the 1960s, Collins scored another hit single with Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon,” singing about a cowboy from Colorado, and Stephen Stills wrote the Crosby, Stills & Nash classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” about her. Collins enjoyed more commercial success with the 1975 Grammy Award winner “Send in the Clowns,” from the Broadway play A Little Night Music, and an a cappella cover of “Amazing Grace.”

Inductee Page

Chris Daniels

A Minnesota teen inspired by folk music and acoustic blues, Chris Daniels settled in Colorado in 1971. He joined Magic Music, one of the first acoustic jam bands, and the act performed at the second and third Telluride Bluegrass Festivals in 1975 and 1976, held its own in local clubs and was often booked at Boulder’s Good Earth with the funky Freddi-Henchi Band.

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In large radio markets, they made a dent on the new “adult album alternative” format. Forty years after inception, Chris Daniels & the Kings have produced a dozen albums, toured Europe twenty times and remained a top local concert draw.

Daniels also played a hefty role in shaping the Colorado music scene. He spent five years as executive director of the Swallow Hill Music Association, during which the roots, folk and acoustic music school and concert organization won both the Governor’s Award and the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He began teaching at Arapahoe Community College in 2002 and became an assistant professor for music business at the University of Colorado Denver in 2007, winning the 2011 award for Excellence in Teaching from its College of Arts & Media. His 2012 release, Better Days, marked a return to his folk roots and found its way onto the national Americana radio chart.

Inductee Page

Bob Lind

While not a Colorado native, Bob Lind called the state home. He graduated from high school in Aurora and enrolled at Western State College in Gunnison, where he focused on playing guitar to the exclusion of academics. He dropped out circa 1964 and moved to Denver, where he became immersed in the folk music scene and took coffeehouses such as the Exodus, the Green Spider and especially the Analyst by storm.

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“Elusive Butterfly” was Lind’s only Top 40 hit. Out of his own pocket, he had recorded an acoustic demo tape during his Denver days at Band Box studios; Verve Folkways Records overdubbed new accompaniment without his input and released it as The Elusive Bob Lind. Follow-up singles charted on Denver’s KIMN radio but barely cracked the national charts.

During the 1970s, Lind began easing out of the music business, concentrating on writing screenplays, novels, plays and short stories. Over the years, more than 200 artists recorded his songs. In 2004, he resumed performing worldwide, and his 2012 album, Finding You Again, has been hailed by some critics as his best work ever.

Inductee Page

Serendipity Singers

The folk boom of the early 1960s spawned numerous purveyors of well-scrubbed folk pop, and one of the most popular ensembles to emerge was the Serendipity Singers, founded at the University of Colorado. Bryan Sennett and Brooks Hatch worked in the Harlin Trio, organized at the Delta Tau Delta house.

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The ensemble, then called the Newport Singers, proved popular through stage performances and radio commercials.

The group moved to New York in the spring of 1963, hoping to land a recording contract. Expanding again with the addition of Texas-born folksingers Diane Decker and Tommy Tiemann, the nonet performed at the Bitter End, one of the top clubs in Greenwich Village, and gained the management expertise of its owner, Fred Weintraub. Billing themselves as the Serendipity Singers, they passed an audition to alternate as the headline act on Hootenanny, the weekly ABC TV folk-music showcase taped at different college campuses.

Signing with Philips Records, the Serendipity Singers reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man),” and the song was nominated at the 7th Grammy Awards in 1965 for Best Performance by a Chorus.

The follow-up, “Beans in My Ears,” hit #30 a few months later, though a few radio markets banned it because some teenagers took the song literally. Charting albums were The Serendipity Singers (No. 11 in March 1964), The Many Sides of the Serendipity Singers (No. 68 in June 1964) and Take Off Your Shoes With the Serendipity Singers (No. 149 in January 1965). The group appeared on such network television shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show, Shindig! and Hullabaloo.

The Serendipity Singers’ upbeat, massed vocal sound broke on the charts just as the continued impact of the Beatles and the British Invasion was about to sweep the music landscape. New member Patti Davis succeeded Lynne Weintraub, and the group performed at the White House, with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance. The group shed its last original members by 1970; the name was sold, and the Serendipity Singers continued with new lineups as a concert attraction into the 1990s.

Inductee Page

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Rockin’ The 60’s

Rockin’ The 60’s

The Astronauts

Circa 1962, the Astronauts played rock and roll and R&B hits of the day around the University of Colorado campus. RCA Victor wanted a surf group of its own to compete with the Beach Boys.

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The Astronauts were the first Boulder band to make the national charts.

“Baja” became the group’s signature song in late summer 1963, occupying No. 94 on the Billboard Hot 100 and beginning a string of hits on Denver’s KIMN radio. The single, a surf instrumental, was taken from Surfin’ With the Astronauts, the first of eight albums. The Astronauts returned to their frat-rock roots for two live albums — one recorded at their own Club Baja in Denver and the other at Tulagi in Boulder.

The band also appeared on television’s Hullabaloo several times and had cameos in several teen movies.

Ironically, the Astronauts enjoyed their greatest success in Japan, outselling the rival Beach Boys. Five albums and three singles made the Japanese Top 10; “Movin’,” titled “Over the Sun” for the Japanese market, hit No. 1. In America, like hundreds of bands, the Astronauts—named in honor of Boulderite Scott Carpenter, one of NASA’s first spacemen—achieved a sort of working prosperity, constantly touring a mind-numbing blur of regional colleges, gyms and bars. In 1967, the draft struck, and Gallagher and Lindsey both wound up serving in Vietnam, essentially finishing the band.

Inductee Page

Flash Cadillac

Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids formed at the University of Colorado in 1968 as an oldies alternative to the rock sound. Lewd and rude shows at Tulagi quickly became the biggest events in Boulder. One year later, the band drove to Los Angeles to play the legendary Troubadour. Flash Cadillac came on last to a half-empty club and soon had the place packed with patrons dancing on the tables.

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Flash Cadillac gained instant popularity within the music industry.

The band earned acclaim in the movies, appearing as the sock-hop band in George Lucas’s American Graffiti and in a scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic, Apocalypse Now. The group also worked on television’s Happy Days and American Bandstand. “Dancin’ (on a Saturday Night),” recorded for Epic Records, cracked the Billboard Pop Singles charts at #93. Flash Cadillac gave the big time one more shot on Private Stock Records, gaining hits with “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)” and “Good Times, Rock & Roll.”

By the mid-1970s, the band had purchased a little ranch near Woodland Park and built up the facility into a 24-track studio.

In 1992, Flash Cadillac—McFadin, Kris “Angelo” Moe (keyboards), Linn “Spike” Phillips III (guitar), Warren “Butch” Knight (bass), Dwight “Spider” Bement (sax) and the latest in a long line of drummers—was reborn, performing pops concerts with symphony orchestras across the country. Over the ensuing years, however, Flash Cadillac lost cylinders with the passing of Phillips, McFadin and Moe.

Inductee Page

KIMN Radio

In Denver, the generation that grew up in the 1950s and 1960s had its worldview formed by KIMN, located at 950 on the AM radio dial. Under the ownership of Ken Palmer, the station became the dominant Top 40 music station in town. Newspapers reported that anywhere a crowd was gathered waiting for the Beatles to play Red Rocks on August 26, 1964, all of the transistor radios were tuned to KIMN.

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During this era of more innocent shock radio, KIMN’s popular record spinners were kings. Leading the pack was Pogo Poge, who would do almost anything to get people to listen to KIMN radio.

He got his name after hopping from Denver to Boulder on a pogo stick. He sat atop a flagpole for days and once played the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” for 18 hours straight. The most famous stunt he masterminded put him in the hospital: He spent nearly two weeks in a snake pit with more than 100 snakes and was bitten by a water moccasin.

Jay Mack was notorious for his cast of crazy characters, including Betty Jo with Niles and Farley. Hal “Baby” Moore was consistently voted Denver’s top disc jockey in the Harmony Record Shop poll.

The station highlighted popular local rock-and-roll bands and sponsored concerts with national stars mixed with local acts, giving them their biggest crowds ever. The news department featured “Sky Spy” Don Martin, who flew above Denver’s rush-hour skies when Interstate 25 extended only from Broadway to the notorious Mousetrap, which he named. Contests included jocks broadcasting live—in bed—from a dream house in Denver’s new Broomfield Heights suburb. The house went to the listener who guessed most closely the number of continuous hours the jocks could broadcast without sleep.

Inductee Page

Sugar Loaf

The end of the 1960s set the stage for Sugarloaf, as the cream of several Denver bands came together as Chocolate Hair. Keyboardist/vocalist Jerry Corbetta and guitarist Bob Webber of the Moonrakers (Denver’s most popular group during the middle of the decade), plus Bob Raymond on bass and Myron Pollock on drums, recorded demos that got Chocolate Hair signed to Liberty Records.

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Prior to the release of “Green-Eyed Lady,” there had also been a name change. Told by the legal department at Liberty that Chocolate Hair had racial overtones, the band took the name of a mountain summit in the foothills above Boulder where Webber lived, transforming the rock quartet into Sugarloaf. Nonstop touring gave the band little time for songwriting, so they invited Robert Yeazel from the Colorado band Beast to join on guitar and vocals. An edit of his “Tongue in Cheek,” a track on the second Sugarloaf album, Spaceship Earth, became a minor hit in 1971.

In trying to regain a recording deal, Corbetta was spurned imperiously, which resulted in “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.”

An amusing song about the fickle music industry, the dance-friendly new track spelled out the CBS Records phone number and a general White House number—touch-tone style—for the world. Recorded with initial drummer Pollock back in the fold, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You,” by Jerry Corbetta/Sugarloaf, became a hit, reaching No. 9 in March 1975.

Inductee Page

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HARRY TUFT-BARRY FEY – Dick Weissman, Rich Moore, Harry Tuft

Setting the Stage

Setting The Stage

Barry Fey

Fresh from Chicago, 27-year-old Barry Fey moved to Denver in 1967 and began his career as one of rock music’s most prolific and successful promoters. After a trip to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury District and witnessing 100,000 young people plus multiple musicians and bands gathered for “The Summer of Love” he saw the possibilities of introducing that cultural phenomenon to Denver. Fey contacted promoter and counter-culture figure Chet Helms to discuss bringing the scene to a recently closed nightspot which became the “Family Dog” at 1601 West Evans in south Denver.

Fey was the booking agent for the 2,500-seat concert hall, which opened on Sept. 8, 1967, with a show featuring Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company as the first headliner, plus the heavy sounds of Blue Cheer. The Family Dog prospered, hosting the cornerstones of rock for ten months—the Grateful Dead, the Byrds, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Van Morrison, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa, Cream and more.

The club struggled to stay open, both financially and with mounting pressure from the Denver police, who disliked the idea of having a hippie haven in their city. Fey and his people were subjected to harassment and illegal searches. The Family Dog closed in July 1968, but for 10 short months, it was the center of Denver’s music universe!

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Fey established the city as a “must-play market”

By 1969, Fey had emerged as a grandiloquent character in the Colorado music scene. That June, he presented the three-day Denver Pop Festival, which became the last performance by the original Jimi Hendrix Experience. His company, Feyline promoted hundreds of top-grossing shows with world-renowned acts such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Who, Willie Nelson, Parliament Funkadelic and many more.

Denver, long regarded as a Rocky Mountain cow town and a blip on the music radar screen, suddenly mattered. Fey established the city as a “must-play” market!

In 1976, Fey initiated his signature “Summer of Stars” concert series at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which made the outdoor venue the most desirable place in the world for every group to play. He also promoted the popular “Colorado Sun Day” concert series of stadium shows and opened the 1,400-seat Rainbow Music Hall.

For three consecutive years, Fey won Billboard magazine’s Concert Promoter of the Year award. He co-produced the “U2 Live At Red Rocks: Under A Blood Red Sky” concert film in 1983, a watershed moment in the Irish group’s history. He helped save the Denver Symphony and formed the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 1989. After flirting with retirement in the late 1990s, Fey finally left the music-promotion business in 2004.

Sadly on April 28, 2013, Barry Fey took his own life and shocked the international music community and especially the city of Denver. Hundreds gathered to pay respects at the memorial honoring the legendary promoter. As William Dean Singleton, chairman & publisher of The Denver Post expressed, “He was one of the giants of a generation …He brought the music scene to Colorado, and every part of the Colorado music scene you see here today has his fingerprints on it.”

Barry Fey exhibit features:

  • Fey’s autographed Who and Rolling Stones guitars
  • Fey’s U2 Under a Blood Red Sky platinum album
  • The Family Dog concert schedule from 1967-1968

The exhibit also includes psychedelic posters and handbills used to promote shows at the Family Dog

Inductee Page

Harry Tuft

It has been said that every free-thinking musician has at one time made the pilgrimage to Harry Tuft’s Denver Folklore Center to soak up knowledge from the dean of Colorado’s folk scene. Carrying only his guitar and a leather briefcase, Tuft journeyed west from Philadelphia in 1962 to open a small store selling vintage instruments, records, books and other musical paraphernalia on East 17th Avenue.

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To establish his store, Tuft created what was possibly the first comprehensive “folk source” resource, the Denver Folklore Center Catalogue and Almanac of Folk Music, which merged a mail-order catalogue with a compendium of information regarding stores, manufacturers and music festivals. It was well received at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival and gave the DFC a national reputation among folk musicians and fans.

In the mid-1970s, Tuft summoned several of his longtime Denver friends and conceived the Music Association of Swallow Hill, a nonprofit organization, to run concert promotions and educational services. More than 35 years after its founding, Swallow Hill is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the United States, boasting more than 2,300 paying members who volunteer their time and energy.

In 1993, Tuft moved the Denver Folklore Center to its current location at 1893 South Pearl Street, imbuing it with the same cozy feel of the old store. It remains a cultural and social landmark, the focal point in the community for those interested in acoustic music.

Inductee Page

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Inaugural Class

Inaugural Class

John Denver

John Denver (born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. in 1943) was one of the most popular recording artists this country has ever known. Somewhere around the mid-’60s, he changed his name to John Denver, after the capital city of his favorite state. He later made his home in Aspen, where he lived until his death in 1997. An avid outdoorsman, photographer and environmentalist, Denver was able to indulge his passions in Colorado. In 2007, his “Rocky Mountain High” became the state’s second official song.

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Denver’s lifelong friendship with Muppets puppeteer Jim Henson spawned two now-classic specials, A Christmas Together and Rocky Mountain Holiday. His movie debut in the comedy Oh God! alongside George Burns was a solid hit, and he starred in many television productions, including The Christmas Gift, which was filmed in the Rocky Mountains in 1986.

Denver’s father, a U.S. Air Force test pilot nicknamed “Dutch,” taught him how to fly, and their shared passion brought them closer together. Sadly, Denver, a licensed pilot, died at age 53 when his experimental aircraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean in October 1997.

The Colorado Music Hall of Fame was proud to induct John Denver on April 21, 2011.

Denver’s popularity was measured in record sales that few other artists have achieved, including eight platinum albums in the U.S. alone. John Denver’s Greatest Hits is still the biggest-selling album in the history of RCA Records. A cheerfully optimistic image marked Denver’s 1970s heyday, when he became one of the five top-selling recording artists in the history of the music industry.

Inductee Page

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Nature’s prehistoric upthrust of the Red Rocks area began some 70 to 40 million years ago with a geological event called the Laramide orogeny.

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre as we know it was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) youths, with an assist from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which built roads and parking lots. The CCC was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pet project in pushing anti-Depression New Deal legislation. The workers dynamited, dug, embedded structural steel, and then reshaped stone and tiers of concrete seats over it.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is heralded as America’s most important outdoor music venue, and every star in the musical galaxy has aspired to play on this special and magical stage. Among the highlights are the legendary Beatles show in 1964, Bruce Springsteen’s first-ever outdoor concert in 1978, and U2’s career-making 1983 video shoot.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is heralded as America’s most important outdoor music venue, and every star in the musical galaxy has aspired to play on this special and magical stage.

Inductee Page

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Jazz Masters

Exhibit

Jazz Masters &
Beyond

East High

Colorado has an incredible wealth of actors, artists, and musicians to call our own, and it’s astounding to see how many of them came out of East High School. Many of our Jazz Masters inductees attended East High. Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk of Earth, Wind & Fire all went to East High School, and so did Bill Frisell and Ron Miles, as well as prior inductees Judy Collins and Paul Whiteman.

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While Philip Bailey was singing in the Youth Choir with future actress Pam Grier, future guitar great Bill Frisell was playing clarinet in the school band. A few years later, Ron Miles was playing trumpet in the East High Jazz Band with actor Don Cheadle on saxophone.

A long list of renowned East High alumni spanning many generations have all benefited from the remarkable music programs there.

The East High School Music Program is the very first recipient of the Barry Fey Visionary award presented to the school for making great music possible in Colorado. Jazz teacher Keith Oxman and choir program director Wil Taylor accepted the award.

Inductee Page

Charles Burrell

Any story of jazz in Colorado must begin with Charles Burrell, also known as the Jackie Robinson of classical music. He was the first African-American to ever play in a symphony orchestra. He was also a brilliant jazz musician, playing with all of the luminaries of that time.

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Charlie learned from some of the best, and he passed it on in so many ways, but most notably in tutoring his cousins George Duke, who became a world famous keyboard player and producer, Purnell Steen, also a well-known keyboard player, and his niece, the celebrated singer Dianne Reeves. Charles Burrell has had an enormous impact on music during his 97 years, especially on jazz in Colorado.

Charles Burrell received the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts & Culture, the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette led a tribute to him on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, referring to him as “a titan of the classical and jazz bass.” Congratulations to Charles Burrell and his induction to the Jazz Masters class of 2017.

Inductee Page

Miles & Frisell

By the time Bill Frisell graduated East High School, he was already an incredible guitarist, and had begun working with some of the greats. Bill has held the number one Guitarist spot in the annual Downbeat Critics Poll for nine out of ten years. He has been named Guitarist of the Year 18 times, and he has won numerous Grammys for his work recording with Petra Haden, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson and Ron Miles. Bill continues to collaborate with a wide range of artists and musicians,from Paul Simon to Vinicius Cantuaria. But his most lasting connection and collaboration has been with Denver’s own Ron Miles.

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Ron Miles has played in many genres and styles of music with artists from all over the world… Yet there is something uniquely Colorado about the way he approaches all music equally.

Ron Miles has played in many genres and styles of music with artists from all over the world… Yet there is something uniquely Colorado about the way he approaches all music equally.

As much as Ron and Bill are both renowned for jazz playing, they both frequently cross musical boundaries into styles like folk, country music and Americana. It is fitting that these two were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame together in 2017.

Miles Inductee Page

Frisell Inductee Page

Dianne Reeves

Denver native Dianne Reeves has achieved remarkable status as a vocalist in the jazz world. The unique timbre of her voice and the style and sensitivity she brings to her songs have made her an American treasure. Music was everywhere in Dianne’s family when she was growing up, and she honed her jazz chops with her cousin, George Duke, and her uncle, Charles Burrell.

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Friends and family played a huge role in Dianne’s life. She moved to Los Angeles in 1976 at the suggestion of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, and the two quickly rose to the top of their respective fields.

Ms. Reeves ranks among the top echelon of jazz singers, winning five Grammy Awards, two honorary doctorates, and numerous other awards. She sang with everyone from Stanley Turrentine to Harry Belafonte, and she was the featured singer in George Clooney’s film Good Night and Good Luck.

We are fortunate that she decided to move back to Colorado in the 1990s, and we treasure her for her elegance and evocative voice and the way she makes us feel as she explores and re-imagines jazz standards and new compositions. Congratulations to Dianne on being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Inductee Page

Earth, Wind & Fire

Certain songs will always remind you of particular moments in your life; like your first time you fell in love, or of a certain time and place, or a special event in your life. It’s a feeling that truly masterful musicians can create for us. But there is one funky group that seems to do this quite often. We are specifically talking about Colorado’s Earth, Wind & Fire – the local band gone global. It is the grounding that all these players have in jazz that has made Earth, Wind & Fire so enduring and expressive. Every time people hear these songs, they only love them more. Members Philp Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Andrew Woolfolk all attended East High School.

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Larry Dunn was working clubs seven nights a week by the time he was 15, and he signed with Earth, Wind & Fire at the tender age of 17. Larry was already playing rock and jazz gigs and had a regular gig with local blues artist Sam Mayfield.

Andrew Woolfolk is a natural-born saxophone player who infuses every song with exquisite and adventurous playing. Philip Bailey’s four-octave range makes Earth, Wind & Fire’s songs unique, beautiful, and timeless.

Earth, Wind & Fire has taken us on an extraordinary musical journey for more than 40 years. They have used elements of jazz to create pop songs that have become a part of our lives, truly living up to the term “Jazz Masters.” Congratulations, Larry, Philip, and Andrew, for your induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

Jazz is alive and thriving well here in Colorado, and these artists are used to performing around the world, influencing genres from pop to rock and much more. We are incredibly proud to be able to present the first ever Jazz Masters “Class of 2017”: East High School Music Program, Charles Burrell, Bill Frisell, Ron Miles, Dianne Reeves, Larry Dunn, Philip Bailey, and Andrew Woolfolk.

Inductee Page

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Rocky Mountain Way

Rocky Mountain
Way Exhibit

Joe Walsh

Best know for what he called the. “National Anthem of Colorado” Joe Walsh came out of Cleveland and the success of his band The James Gang, with hits like “Funk #49” to Boulder, Colorado largely due to his friendship with Bill Szymczyk (the producer of many of the James Gang hits and later of the Eagles and J. Geils Band.

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After moving into the mountains and living what he would call a “rustic lifestyle” Walsh formed Barnstorm in 1972 with Joe Vitale from Ohio who had played in the legendary Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent’s band), and bassist Kenny Passarelli from southern Colorado. Their first “self titled” album, produced by Szymczyk, was the first album to come out of Jim Guercio’s new studio at Caribou Ranch. The “barn” was still not in full operation but Wash, Passarelli and Vitale had the freedom to create an entirely new sound that incorporated both the hard rock and the inventiveness of all three. Taking that sound on the road required more than the trio so they added Rockie Grace and Tom Stephenson (among others) for their touring dates.

It was their next album, “The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get, also recorded at Caribou with Bill Szymczyk serving as producer that gave the band their first hit (Top 10)and it sold over a million copies. The song “Meadows” charted but it was Wash’s anthem “Rocky Mountain Way,” (co-written by Passarelli) that would become not only an international hit but also an iconic homage to Joe’s love for the State and a song that rivaled John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” for best Colorado song ever written. As Walsh said in an interview with G Brown, “It’s the attitude and the statement. It’s a positive song, and it’s basic rock ‘n’ roll, which is what I really do well.”

In 1974, after the death of his young daughter in a car accident, Walsh continued in Colorado for a time, producing and recording with Dan Fogelberg, and in LA with various artists. Barnstorm officially broke up in 1975 and Walsh would go on to work with some of the most respected and talented artists in the business eventually joining the Eagles and working on the seminal “Hotel California” including co-writing credits on “Life In the Fast Lane.” Keny Passarelli is probably best known for his work with Elton John, Dan Fogelberg, and Hall & Oates and Joe Vitale continues to play with acts as diverse as Crosby, Stills & Nash and Peter Frampton.

Personal Life

Joe Walsh and Barnstorm created one of Colorado’s most iconic tribute songs and even though the trio’s tenure was relatively short, their impact and inventiveness propelled all three of their careers to heights that rivaled the peaks where the songs were recorded.

Inductee Page

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Dan Fogelberg

The double album included four of his biggest hits: “Same Old Lang Syne”, “Hard to Say”, “Leader of the Band”, and “Run for the Roses”. He drew inspiration for The Innocent Age from Thomas Wolfe’s novel Of Time and the River. A 1982 greatest hits album contained two new songs, both of which were released as singles: “Missing You” and “Make Love Stay.” In 1984, he released the album Windows and Walls, containing the singles “The Language of Love” and “Believe in Me.”

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Starting out in local bands playing rock n roll Fogelberg found his passion on acoustic guitar ands left his studies at the University of Illinois and headed for the West Coast, finding inspiration during a week in Colorado before moving on and securing a recording contract. For his second release, Souvenirs, Fogelberg enlisted producer Joe Walsh, who had recently recorded at Caribou Ranch near Nederland, Colorado, and “Part of the Plan” went to the top of the charts.

While touring through Colorado in the mid-1970s, Fogelberg bought a house from Chris Hillman, situated 9,000 feet up on top of the Rocky Mountains. His time there resulted in the songs on Nether Lands, a platinum seller. He recorded part of his next venture, Phoenix, in Colorado, and the songs “Heart Hotels” and “Longer” were pop hits. The Innocent Age, released in 1981, included four of his biggest singles—”Same Old Lang Syne,” “Hard To Say,” “Leader of the Band” and “Run For the Roses.”

In the mid 1980s Fogelberg built what would become

his ultimate home and recording studio in the San Juan mountains near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. After a weekend at the Telluride Bluegrass sitting with friends and bluegrass legends, Fogelberg recorded High Country Snows with some of his favorite acoustic pickers and that album became one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all time. The Wild Places, released in 1990, was the first album he self-produced and mostly tracked at his Mountain Bird Ranch. His rendition of the Cascades’ 1963 hit, “Rhythm of the Rain,” peaked at No. 3 on the adult contemporary chart. Dan Fogelberg, like Jackson Brown and JD Souther understood that ‘hit songs” were often generational and the late 90s after an injury to his hand Fogelberg turned to performing solo and in varied acoustic settings. And then, in May, 2004, he was diagnosed with an advanced prostate cancer. He continued recording with friends and the help of skilled engineers like James Tuttle until he finally succumbed to the disease on December 16, 2007. He died at his home. He was only 56 years old. Fogelberg wrote “Sometimes a Song” for his wife Jean in 2005. She released the song on the Internet and all proceeds went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The song was released on Valentine’s Day 2008 and was also included on a CD released in September 2009 titled Love in Time.

Inductee Page

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Caribou Ranch

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Inductee Page

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