Aug 13, 2017: Joe Walsh, Barnstorm Reunion

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Barnstorm soak in the applause onstage at Denver’s Fiddler’s Green at their induction on August 13, 2017 (Photo via Walsh’s Facebook page)

The original Barnstorm lineup of Joe Walsh, Kenny Passarelli and Joe Vitale reunited on August 13, 2017, for their induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. The event also honored Dan Fogelberg and James William Guercio’s Caribou Ranch at Denver’s Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. Music producer Bill Szymczyk received the hall’s Award of Excellence.

The event, “The Rocky Mountain Way,” also featured performances from Garth Brooks, Amy Grant & Vince Gill, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Richie Furay, John Oates,  Michael Martin Murphey and others paying tribute to the late Fogelberg and Caribou Ranch, the legendary recording studio.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said Walsh, “the national anthem of Colorado,” as Barnstorm began to play “Rocky Mountain Way.”

Many of the artists performing in tribute to singer-songwriter Fogelberg participated in a tribute CD produced by Jean Fogelberg, Irving Azoff and Chuck Morris. Some of them recorded at Caribou Ranch and performed those songs as well. The performances and vídeo tributes were captured by the PBS series Soundstage.

Watch Barnstorm perform “Turn to Stone”

Watch an all-star cast perform “There’s a Place in the World For a Gambler” from Fogelberg’s Souvenirs album

Watch Oates perform an Elton John favorite, a song recorded at Caribou Studios

A closer look at the inductees, who were the seventh group for enshrinement in the Hall since its inception in 2011:

When he set out for the West Coast, Fogelberg found inspiration during a week in Colorado. The singer-songwriter subsequently bought a Nederland spread from original Byrds member Chris Hillman, and his time there resulted in the songs for his 1977 album, Nether Lands. Fogelberg earned six Platinum albums in his career; among his hits are “Part of the Plan,” the #2 single “Longer,” “Leader of the Band” and “Same Old Lang Syne.” He later preferred to remain secluded on the ranch he purchased near Pagosa Springs, CO, and succumbed to prostate cancer in December 2007 at age 56.

In November 1971, Walsh left the James Gang and relocated to Colorado, forming a new group called Barnstorm with bassist Passarelli and drummer Vitale and released a 1972 album of the same name. [James Gang members Walsh, Jimmy Fox and Dale Peters reunited at the 2022 edition of Walsh’s VetsAid benefit concert at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.]

Passarelli and Vitale would also be the core backing band members for the follow-up The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973). The album reached #6 on the strength of the hit “Rocky Mountain Way,” which was inspired by Walsh’s move to Colorado. After 1974’s So What, Barnstorm disbanded.

Caribou Ranch

Caribou Ranch, the first “destination studio,” was built by producer Guercio on ranch property in the Rocky Mountains near Nederland. Caribou gained prominence when Elton John recorded three albums there, including the 1974’s Caribou. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the studio hosted many of the biggest names in music, including such classic rock legends as Chicago, the Beach Boys, Stephen Stills, Billy Joel, Frank Zappa, John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire. Caribou Ranch was in operation until the control room suffered extensive fire damage in 1985.

Related: Our feature on Caribou Ranch

The Award of Excellence was presented to producer Szymczyk, who came to Colorado in 1971 and worked as a disc jockey for free-form radio station KFML. He earned great success working with Walsh, the Eagles, the James Gang and many other rock acts.

Related: We spoke to Szymczyk about the making-of Walsh’s But Seriously, Folks album

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Jack
    #1 Jack 18 August, 2017, 02:15

    It’s good to hear that Dan Fogelberg was inducted into The Colorado Music Hall of Fame. He was very deserving of the honor, as were the other inductees. Maybe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will wake up and induct Fogelberg soon. He definitely has the achievements to warrant it. His talent was phenomenal, more so than a lot of the others who have been inducted. It’s a no-brainer! Anyway you look at it, he deserves it. If you go strictly by sales, which is a shallow way to look at it, he should be there. It’s when you take into consideration his unbelievable talent together with the commercial success, it would be a crime to deny him. However, when you look at the Hall, the list of who they’ve NOT inducted is as good as those that have been inducted. There really seems to be no rhyme to their reason.

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  2. Gene
    #2 Gene 18 August, 2017, 09:57

    Big Fan of Dan Fogelberg, since 1978 when in the Navy in Hawaii, and was jamming acoustic with another Navy guy and he played “There’s a Place In The World for a Gambler” and we then listened to the album (on a cassette player). Very poetic lyrics had a big influence on my writing from that point on. Great to see he is inducted in the Colorado Hall of Fame, next the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Enjoyed watching Garth and everyone else sing this song as a tribute).

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  3. Bob Sled
    #3 Bob Sled 14 August, 2022, 14:14

    Was this ever released commercially? If not, it’s a downright shame – an incredible show!

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