At his 1970s peak, with seven US No 1 albums in four years, Elton John was a regular at Colorado’s Caribou Ranch studios. In 1974, he recorded Caribou in the winter snows, returning in August to make Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. Rock Of The Westies was recorded there too.

“It really is luxurious,” John raved. “The only thing you have to get used to is that it’s so high up, you keep gasping for breath all the time.”

Long time EJ lyricist Bernie Taupin said, “Some of my favorite work that we ever created was done at Caribou. Captain Fantastic is one of our finest records, and probably the most underestimated of our career. Oddly enough, it wasn’t a particularly good point in my life. We were pretty wacked out in those days. I don’t know where there was more ‘snow,’ in the mountains or in the cabins! That might have inspired his Elton's trip in a limo to a burger joint in Boulder – in pink glasses and a pink fur coat. Jim Guercio, Caribou’s owner, ‘Elton, if you want to be discreet, this is not the right wardrobe.’”

But some wonderful music was made between the craziness. After singing on John Lennon's 'Whatever Get's You Through The Night', Elton suggested covering a Beatles song. The former Beatles stopped in Colorado and made the trip to Caribou and provided the “the reggae guitars of Dr. Winston O’Boogie”, on 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.'

John’s hit, “Philadelphia Freedom” was inspired the World Tennis League and ardent his friendship with Billie Jean King’s team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. “We had the playoffs in Denver,” Billie Jean said. “Elton came because he’d been recording up at Caribou. He was all excited, saying, ‘You’ve got to listen to this tape. This is it, the song I wrote for you,’ So he played me a rough mix of ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ and it was great. And when he got to the chorus he said, ‘Listen to this part. Hear the beat? That’s when you get mad on the court.’”

Then there was his appearance with the Rolling Stones in Ft. Collins. Here's an excerpt from his autobiography, "Me":Here's an excerpt from Elton John's upcoming autobiography, Me-

"Cocaine gave me too much confidence for my own good. If I hadn’t been coked out of my head when the Rolling Stones turned up in Colorado (Hughes Stadium, Ft. Collins, the photo is from back stage at the concert in question) and asked me to come onstage with them, I might have just performed 'Honky Tonk Women,' waved to the crowd and made my exit. Instead, I decided it was going so well, I’d stay on and jam along to the rest of their set, without first taking the precaution of asking the Stones if they wanted an auxiliary keyboard player."

He went on to remember, "For a while, I thought Keith Richards kept staring at me because he was awestruck by the brilliance of my improvised contributions to their oeuvre. After a few songs, it finally penetrated my brain that the expression on his face wasn’t really suggestive of profound musical appreciation. I quickly scuttled off, noting as I went that Keith was still staring at me in a manner that suggested we’d be discussing this later, and decided it might be best if I didn’t hang around for the after-show party.”

The video shows Elton, in cowboy hat and Dodgers jacket taking the stage with the Stones at Hughes Stadium, July 20, 1975. Were you there?

Happy Birthday Elton!

Colorado Music.org and The Guardian sources or this blog.

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