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Historic Recording Studio is Being Sold

Tuesday 23 July 2013 @ 15:18 - GMT

The Denver Post has revealed that a piece of music history sitting in Boulder's backyard is for sale.

Music producer James W. Guercio is selling the remainder of Caribou Ranch near Nederland -- including the recording studio that hosted artists such as Elton, John Lennon, and U2 -- for $45 million, according to an online property listing.

Breckenridge-based Mountain Marketing Associates listed Guercio's 1,600-acre portion of the land.

James has owned the property since 1971, when he purchased more than 4,000 acres for $11.3 million. The producer 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.


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 working with bands such as Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears -- in the early 1970s.

Guercio said that he was growing frustrated by how the union rules were affecting how he was producing music in New York and L.A. and so 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. That site became part of a subdivision called the Caribou Ranch Country Club Estates.

Guercio would buy the property two years later.

He and his 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. The eponymous Barnstorm was the first disc cut at Caribou.

During the following years, the ranch attracted the likes of Elton -- whose Caribou LP was named after the ranch -- as well as Stephen Stills, Dan Fogelberg, Supertramp, the Beach Boys and Billy Joel. In Among the last artists to record at the studio, before a space heater blaze put an end to operations, were Michael Jackson and Yes.

As mentioned previously by EJW, Caribou is to become a member of the Colorado Music Hall of Fame next year. It's also the subject of a feature film, now in pre-production stages.

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