DENVER (KDVR) – Lovers of country music the world over may not be aware, but Sept. 17 is a day of recognition for the musical genre they hold dear – International Country Music Day.
The genre has been molded and morphed over the past few decades, but here is a list of some classical country hit makers from Colorado.
In 1968, Denver-based Rusty Young was in Los Angeles playing steel guitar during the studio sessions for Buffalo Springfield, but according to the Colorado Music Experience, the air surrounding the recording of “Kind Woman” was in disarray. So, two band members interested in a break-off venture reached out to Young, who reached out to two Coloradan musicians, and thus Poco was formed.
It wouldn’t be long before both founding members, Jim Messina and Richie Furay, would break away around 1969 to fill the Eagles’ open bass position, and form another group respectively. CME said that the Eagles would begin to adopt Poco’s sound.
Despite the initial struggle, Young filled the empty positions and pushed onward. When the band’s 14th studio album “Legend” was released in 1968, they finally struck gold with singles like:
- “Crazy Love”
- “Heart of the Night”
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Following the release of 1970’s “Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy,” members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band left the west coast to resettle in the Colorado high country. According to the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, after arriving, they went to watch Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, who were country-music traditionalist icons in the region.
Both Scruggs and Watson agreed to record “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” with the band, which would eventually go on to earn gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. This album received a remastering and was re-released in 2002.
Following the release of “Circle” in 1977, the CMHOF says the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the first American-based group to be asked to tour the USSR. The band went on to have 17 consecutive Top 10 country songs and, in 2016, marked its bicentennial with “50 Years of Circlin’ Back,” a show and record that included hits such as:
- “Mr. Bojangles”
- “Make a Little Magic”
- “An American Dream”
The merging of the Flying Burrito Brothers and Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame in the early 1970s led to the forming of one of Colorado’s most famous supergroups.
According to the CME, Stills had just completed his second solo album in September of 1970, when he met with Chris Hillman of the Flying Burrito Brothers and got several other musicians to sign on to form Manassas. According to engineer Howard Albert, the group conducted marathon-style recording sessions, with the longest one lasting 106 hours.
In 1973, the band recorded “Down the Road” at the Caribou Ranch recording studio in Nederland, which would top out at No. 26 on the Billboard album charts in May of that same year with singles that included:
- “Isn’t it About Time”
- “Business on the Street”
During the summer of 1974, Rick Roberts and Jock Bartley formed one of Boulder’s most famous musical outfits, Firefall.
According to the CME, the two honed their sound during garage jam sessions and added Mark Andes and Larry Burnett before taking to stage for the first time in September of 1974. Shortly thereafter, drummer Michael Clarke was added and the band performed its first full five-member show at the Good Earth Club in Boulder.
In the early days of 1976, Firefall wrapped up the recording of the self-titled debut album and added keyboardist David Muse, finding its standout sound in the process. “Firefall” went platinum and the band recorded two more hit records, before being asked to open for Fleetwood Mac on the 1977 “Rumors” tour.
The band has since lost some members but singles that the original lineup left behind for country enthusiasts to sample include:
- “Just Remember I Love You”
- “You Are the Woman”
Looking for more Colorado bands to check out? Here’s a list of seven local bands that are making waves on Spotify.