The Caribou Ranch Story

The Caribou Ranch Recording Studio was built by James William Guercio. He imagined a place where legendary artists could escape the daily madness of paparazzi, energetic fans, and bodyguards. Guercio built a retreat where musicians could breathe and enjoy the beauty and tranquility that the mountains of Colorado have to offer. Artists could unwind, relax, and write and record their music without the normal distractions that are common place for some of the worlds biggest stars.         

Some History on James William Guercio

As a guitarist, bass player, arranger, and composer, Chicago native James William Guercio, started in the music business with Dick Clark in 1962. Touring and performing with Gene Pitney, Brian Hyland, Del Shannon, Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin, and Chad and Jeremy. He was an original guitarist with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention along with producing, arranging, and composing numerous hits for Chad and Jeremy and the Buckinghams. Guercio received a Grammy Award for his work as a music producer, winning Album of the Year in 1969 for Blood, Sweat & Tears. In 1971, searching for the perfect environment for artists to record, Jim purchased the Caribou Ranch just west of Boulder, Colorado to build what would become the legendary Caribou Ranch studio.

In 1972, Joe Walsh recorded the first album in the barn turned studio, the eponymous Barnstorm, with Grammy-winning producer and engineer Bill Szymczyk. The barn conversion was not complete at the time. Walsh came into the studio to find that the dirt floors only added to the ambiance and acoustics. “Rocky Mountain Way” was the first song written and recorded at Caribou Ranch and soon, word got out that Mr. Guercio had created a state-of-the-art recording studio in an acoustically perfect setting. 

Caribou Ranch brought Rock & Roll to the west as the country’s premiere destination recording studio. At 8,600 feet in the mountains of Colorado, Guercio introduced the decades’ most iconic artists to a creative retreat like no other.

The ranch hosted hundreds of musicians and artists during its tenure producing dozens of top ten albums, Grammys, and number one Billboard hits, including "If You Leave Me Now" for which Jim Guercio won a Grammy for Best Arrangement in 1976. To see a full list of  Caribou Ranch guests, view our artists page.

In addition to owning and operating the recording studio, Guercio produced and directed "Electra Glide in Blue“, starring Robert Blake, which was also the American entry in the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1986, Guercio was the primary founder and shareholder of Country Music Television which was sold to Gaylord/Westinghouse in 1991. In 1990, the Guercios started acquiring property in southeastern Montana which has a current portfolio of over 60,000 acres.

The family continues to curate and preserve the musical history of the Caribou Ranch. The Caribou Ranch Recording Studio along with Joe Walsh & Barnstorm, and Dan Fogelberg were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2017.