The gates will close on the famed Caribou Ranch this month as a family has purchased the vast property with plans to steward — not develop — the land.
"This gives us a good chance to focus on our ranch in Montana and Caribou's induction into Colorado's Music Hall of Fame later this year," declared Will Guercio, son of music producer Jim Guercio, who sold the property in June for $32.5 million after more than 40 years of ownership.
Under Jim's care, the 1,600-acre mountain property north of Nederland served as a getaway recording studio for some of the past century's most famous musicians.
But changes in the music industry and a studio fire in 1985 altered the ranch's identity.
Guercio told the Denver Post that his family is taking inventory of artifacts from the ranch and studio that have ties to legends including Elton, Chicago, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
The family plans to give about half of the memorabilia to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. The objects will be featured at the hall of fame's new home at the Trading Post at Red Rocks, which is set to open later this summer.
"Caribou Ranch was such an incredible part of Colorado music history," stated G. Brown, Colorado Music Hall of Fame director. "In the '70s, it was the first destination studio where acts sequestered themselves somewhere in the thought that it would spark creativity.
"It was a who's who of rock that recorded up there in the '70s and '80s. It is just an incredible legacy."
Guercio reassured a concerned public that the purchasing family has a strong commitment to conservation and is simply looking at the ranch as a retreat but could not discuss details because of nondisclosure agreements.
Sources said the buyer — described in real estate transaction documents as Indian Peaks Holdings LLC — is part of the Walton clan, descendents of the founders of Walmart.
Additionally, the principal office of Indian Peaks Holdings listed in the company's registration documents with the Colorado secretary of state's office shares a Bentonville, Ark., address with Walton Enterprises and several other businesses, nonprofits and organisations connected to the Waltons.
It is a bittersweet event to see the physical property sold, Brown said, but he commended Jim Guercio and his family for their top-notch archiving and artifact collecting.
"We have the pianos that 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' and 'Bridge over Troubled Waters' were recorded on," Guercio said. "We rebuilt the studio around that piano."
The family has not decided which of the 10 pianos and countless other items they will give to the hall of fame for exhibition. They anticipate donating about half of the items and may auction the rest, Guercio said.
The family did retain a few elements of the ranch, including the Caribou Ranch name and brand, as well as a scenic 40-acre plot, which they hope to use for a Caribou Ranch reunion or other promotional events.
Jim also put to rest last summer's talk of an entertainment content licensing agreement with Denver-based Gravity Collection, saying the negotiations never led to a formal agreement.
But he did not discount the possibility of re-creating Caribou Ranch one day.
"We are in conversations with a few developers in Denver to actually re-create the studio," he said, adding he sees it as a lifestyle brand and hopes to take it to ''the next level.''