Colorado Music Favorites

I love Colorado and it’s music (thanks dad for begin born here then bringing our family back to this lovely state when you got a job with the FAA 56 years ago).  It is my deepest regret that I didn’t do a good job of expressing that simple fact when I fumbled a last minute fill-in induction for Sugarloaf at the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame (which I was a founding board member of till I resigned after not liking the direction the group was taking).  While there are some big names on my list, to someone not from this state, the music will mostly be unfamiliar (heck – much of it will be unfamiliar to natives as well).  As a child of the ’60s, most of this top 25 would be taken up with just a few acts (The Astronauts, Flash Cadillac, et al) and that wouldn’t express the breadth of great music that has come from a mile high, so to keep things fair I decided that I would only include one song by any artist.  That meant leaving out great songs like “Baja” and “Can’t Stand To Be In Love With You” but we’ll find a way to work those sorts of songs into a later post.  By the way, if you want some more info on Colorado music you should check out Craig Swank’s site: and Lisa Wheelers’ 2 sites: and all excellent.  If I can find a link to the song on youtube, I will give that and then you will have to cut and paste into your browser to listen.  I look forward to your reply lists!

1.Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids – Good Times Rock & Roll – the lyrics to this single from the Sons Of The Beaches album could be the story of my life.  “Turn my radio on, sing along with the song – music is my friend…”  These guys were a great rock and roll band and good friends – how Sam McFadin, Linn Phillips and Kris Moe could all be gone so young  is hard to fathom.  Founder Warren Knight keeps the flame going today with a great group of like-minded rockers in the band.

2.The Rainy Daze – Blood Of Oblivion – also known as “Fe Fi Fo Fum”  this is another band that has lost a number of it’s members over the years.  They had a small national hit in 1967 with “That Acapulco Gold” which lost momentum when djs figured out it was about marijuana and stopped playing it.  Tim Gilbert & John Carter wrote some great songs for the band (not to mention “Incense & Peppermints” for Strawberry Alarm Clock) including this song that gets pretty deep lyrically (“no sir I’m not your son”) but is terribly complex musically as well.  There is a great organ riff while a very busy bass riff and stomping drums hold it together – cries for a stereo remix.

3.The Soul Survivors – Hung Up On Losin’ – no relation to the 1967 Philadelphia group who had a national hit.  A great pop production that builds as the song goes on and again would have sounded great mixed in stereo so you could hear all the percussion buried in the mix.  A couple of the members formed a group called the Poor who have out a CD so the best I can do is a 30 seconds clip on amazon.

4.John Denver – Calypso – this is the one artist most people think of when they think Colorado music.  He did some fine music before his untimely passing, but this ode to Jacques Cousteau and his crew of sea explorers always has stood out for me.

5.Boenzee Cryque – Watch The Time – this group today is remembered for once having future Poco members Rusty Young and George Grantham as members, but they did a couple of fine singles for UNI in the late ’60s.  This, their 2nd 45, isn’t very well known but has a great stompin’ rock feel thanks to Grantham and a nasty guitar/bass interaction.  Singer Sam Bush isn’t “the” Sam Bush, by the way.

6.The Astronauts – The La La La Song – a group that should have been way more successful out of Colorado but only managed to place the great instrumental “Baja” in the lower reaches of the charts and were virtually unknown otherwise – unless you were from Japan where they scored some number #1 hits.  This song was an atypical bubblegum number that probably made the band cringe, but I adored.

7.The Teardrops – Sweet Sweet Sadie – proving that southern Colorado had some great garage bands too, these guys were from Pueblo.  Nice trashy farfisa organ riff and heavy bass pulls this above the ordinary.

8.Judy Collins – Farewell To Tarwathie – certainly the most successful artist of my era to trace their roots to Colorado, Ms. Collins is an amazing talent (singer, musician, songwriter, author). While “Both Sides Now” is wonderful, this haunting acapella sea shanty sung over actual recordings of whale is incredible and my fave performance by her.  From the LP Whales & Nightingales.

9.Firefall – Strange Way (single edit) – another very successful artist from Colorado in the easy country-rock genre.  Haunting guitar,strings, nice flute and a driving bass.  Sacrilege I suppose to prefer the single edit, but it feels tidier as a song that way.

10.Denny & Jay – HURT – a really nice duet vocal ballad with a french horn background sound.  Talking middle part certainly didn’t fit with 1964 when their labelmates on Capitol the Beatles were moving music in a different direction meaning this record was doomed from every hitting the charts.

11.OneRepublic – Love Runs Out – the newest song on the list and a big hit in 2014 (#15 with sales over a million).  With the addition of this insistently catchy song and one other, the reissue of the record Native may well be the best album ever by a Colorado artist.  Another SoColo band (Colorado Springs).

12.The Other Side Of Time – What Ya Gonna Do – here is a ’60s Colorado band that did very little here on the charts which is a pity as they put out 2 fantastic singles that vocally have always reminded me of the Cowsills.  Nice pop production by one of the best producers in our state Dik Darnell.

13.Glenn Miller – In The Mood – the Miller family skipped across the midwest finally landing Glenn in Fort Morgan, Colorado where he played trombone and football.  After graduation he attending the University Of Colorado in Boulder for a time but music was his calling.  Before he became the most famous celebrity casualty of WW II, he put out a string of huge dance band records including this huge hit from 1940.  My wife’s dad drove his parents crazy playing his 78 rpm record of this over and over – small wonder as it’s terribly catchy (becoming a hit for Ernie Fields in 1959 yet again).

14.The Action Brass – Livin’ The Good Life – another wimpoid pop song from the later ’60s that got a fair amount of play on Denver’s KIMN.  Music not online yet.

15.The Trolls – I Don’t Recall – Rich “Speedy” Gonzales composed this nasty garage rocker (the other side was a Stones cover that actually bests the original).  A punky in-your-face garage rocker from Pueblo (their first single “That’s The Way My Love Is” is great too).  These guys had the British Invasion look down as well.

16.The Moonrakers – You’ll Come Back – the group that would morph into Sugarloaf eventually also had a great Brit Invasion look and put out some fine singles on Tower before finding “God-rock” on Shamley.  This was their signature song with suitably fuzzed guitar and Denny Flannigan’s snotty vocal.

17.C W McCall – Convoy – Bill Fries was an ad man from Nebraska who hit upon this winning character and parlayed it into a short blast of fame tied to CB radios.  Having talked to the former mayor of Ouray, Colorado, I can say he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever talk to.  His talking style kept alive the story teller tradition of performers like Walter Brennan and Andy Griffith and his songs about Colorado themes (“Wolf Creek Pass” “The Silverton”) still appeal long after the CB craze has faded.

18.Bernie Lucas & The Golden Boys – Blue Feeling – a true oddity is this nasty garage rocker from a Colorado label known almost exclusively for Hispanic ranchero records (Infal).  The former label head told me that Lucas was here from Montana (I think) at the time and they recorded this great Animals cover.

19.Bob Lind – Elusive Butterfly – this was a huge international hit in late 1965 to early 1966.  Lyrics were especially Lind’s forte in a folk vein however the Jack Nitzsche production really put it over the top.  Even inspired a parody by the Bonzo Dog Band (“The Canyons Of Your Mind”).

20.Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Boom Boom – a 1997 John Lee Hooker cover that features some of the legendary bluesman’s voice as he was recording in the same studio at the time.  A truly hot in-your-face blues rocker from the Beautiful World album.

21.The Serendipity Singers – Don’t Let The Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man) – 7 of the 9 members were from Colorado (the other 2 from Texas) and they parlayed a goodtime folk feel into a long career.  This was a song you couldn’t help but remember.

22.Sugarloaf – Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You – emerging from being a late-era Moonrakers drummer, Jerry Corbetta was a keyboard player mostly and formed Chocolate Hair from the cream of Colorado musicians.  As Sugarloaf they hit with “Green-Eyed Lady” then faded only to return a few years later with this funky kiss-off to the music industry written by Corbetta with John Carter and J C Phillips.

23.The Poor – Once Again – following the break-up of the Soul Survivors, the Poor was born and made a bid for the big-time in California.  The music was great, but only bassist Randall Meisner made it out of the poor category as bassist with first Poco then the Eagles.  Great vocal harmonies on this building ballad.

24.Karen Karsh – I Wasn’t Born To Follow – not as good as the Byrds version on their Notorious Byrd Brothers record, but still a worthy contender.  The recording could stand a good stereo remix as there is alot of great sound buried in the mix.  The fact that it’s on youtube is amazing, but the recording quality is awful.

25.Sunshineward – Pay The Price – as the Astronauts drifted apart they regrouped as Sunshineward (and later Hardwater) to put out this sadly neglected 45.  To boot, this was the b-side and deserved to be flipped over. A fine vocal by my friend Storm Patterson on this 12-string drenched Buffalo Springfield cover.