The Chicago-Colorado Connection

by | Apr 17, 2011

I decided to purchase The Chicago Transit Authority from Amazon the other day and the 1969 release from this hugely popular band is definitely worth the every penny. You might even call the double album a masterpiece of jazz fusion and rock.

Released in April 1969, the album (sometimes informally referred to simply as “CTA”) proved to be an immediate hit, reaching #17 in the US and #9 in the UK. While critical reaction was also strong, the album initially failed to produce any hit singles, and the group was seen as an album-oriented collective until their producer James Guercio later shortened some of the tracks for radio.

While clicking around these tubes to learn more about the band’s origins, I found fragments of a documentary that features Chicago in their native studio setting, the 4000 acre Caribou Ranch near Nederland, Colorado, which was purchased by Guercio for $1 million in 1971.

According to a page on Invicta Records’ website, Chicago filmed a network television special there, “Chicago: High in the Rockies” in 1973, the year Caribou Ranch opened. A second TV special “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” was broadcast in 1974.

Elton John’s 1974 album Caribou was recorded at, and named after, the studio. Other artists who made records at Caribou Ranch include Earth Wind & Fire, The Beach Boys, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Joe Walsh, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carole King, Waylon Jennings, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, America, Chick Corea, Deep Purple and the list goes on. Chicago recorded a total of five studio albums in Nederland: Chicago VI, Chicago VII, Chicago VIII, Chicago X, and Chicago XI.

My research also revealed that Guercio founded Country Music Television and is a major landowner in Colorado and Montana. He also has his hand in cattle ranching, as well as energy and mineral investments. He has also amassed one of the world’s largest private collections of Gen. George Custer’s papers.