Caribou Ranch Recording Studios was one of the places I cut my teeth in the recording business. I was young, just out of high school. It was the summer of 1975 between graduation and starting college. I was on scene for only a few weeks, but the time there taught me the basics and introduced me to the career I knew I was destined to live.
In 2015 the best mover Kitchener could give us pulled up to the barn, and all the old recording equipment was hauled off to auction. It was with great sadness learning that Caribou Ranch was closed down last year. I had lost touch as my life as a college student, entrepreneur and family man took over my time. Nonetheless I have great memories.
I was very impressionable and full of life. I didn’t have too many cares at that age. College wasn’t a concern, academia was easy for me, so I was all in. Full tilt boogie. The Ranch had my complete attention. Whatever the staff wanted me to do – mostly gofer stuff, I did it.
I was like a fly on the wall when big names like Elton John, Joey Walsh, or Stephen Stills showed up. I didn’t want to miss anything. The Denver technicians who lined me up with the gig at Caribou told me ahead of time to be cool and not get star-struck. What I witnessed was a mutual respect from the artists on both sides of the booth.
Jimmy Guercio, the owner of the ranch had water rights to several streams on the property that flowed down into the city of Boulder’s water supply. Boulder paid Jimmy for the water and that meant it had to be metered. Since I was dispensable I was often the one who hopped on the all-terrain 4 x 4 to head out over the property and read the meters. The trails were not always well marked and I had a few wiley adventures a time or two.
The elk abound in the Rockies and they can claim their space pretty aggressively – especially if they have young ones. One day I was coming around a rock outcropping, searching for the elusive meter. I was on foot, leaving the vehicle about twenty-five yards away. Out of nowhere came a huge female elk. She was within twenty feet of me and stamping her foot. Clearly, she didn’t want me to go any further. I started walking backwards telling her in a soft voice that I was leaving and meant no harm. She slowly advanced and kept pounding the ground. At that point, since I am in the process of backing down, I got a little pissed off and told her in a loud voice to bugger off – that I was leaving. To my surprise it worked. She stopped and turned away. I didn’t get that meter read that day.
When I got back to the studio that afternoon, Jimmy said I had run into a new mama who had probably recently given birth. He told me never to mess with a new Mama. Point well taken, and one I’ve used in my personal life to this day.
So the time spent at the state of the art Caribou Ranch Recording Studio was multifaceted. For a kid with lots of curiosity, I was taken under the wing of Al Burnham, the Chief Maintenance Engineer. I learned more about recording than I ever thought could be jammed into a short period of time. The time inspired me and it was shortly after leaving college that I opened Park Lane Recording Studios.
Do you remember Caribou Ranch Recording Studio? Leave a comment below – let me hear from you.