For over five decades, Dan Fong has taken thousands of photographs of musicians in Colorado - from big stars passing through on international tours to local musicians who are now a footnote in our state’s music history. Here are just a few of the people whose photographs launched Fong’s career as one of the most respected photographers of the Colorado music industry.
In the early 1970s, internationally-known musicians began moving to the mountains outside of Boulder, looking for peace, quiet, and inspiration far from the rat race of the Los Angeles music scene. Twenty-four year-old guitar player Joe Walsh, who had just left the James Gang, was one of them.
Walsh settled in the small town of Nederland, Colorado, seventeen miles up the canyon from Boulder, in 1971. There, he negotiated a deal with Grammy award-winning music producer Jim Guercio to use Guercio’s new recording studio at Caribou Ranch. The studio was then under construction - but soon after, it became legendary for the 45 top ten albums, 18 Grammy awards, and 20 number-one Billboard hits that Guercio produced there between 1972 and 1985, which include albums like Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and John Lennon’s solo version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Joe Walsh, along with bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer and multi-instrumentalist Joe Vitale, recorded the album, Barnstorm, at Caribou in 1972. Released in 1973, it appropriately featured Walsh’s Colorado anthem, "Rocky Mountain Way.”
Dan Fong took several photos of Joe Walsh from his time living and playing music in the Nederland area, including this image of Walsh with his wife, Stefany, and their three year-old daughter Emma, photographed in either 1973 or early 1974. Only a short time after this picture was taken, Emma was tragically killed in a car accident on April 1, 1974 in Boulder. A plaque in her memory remains today at North Boulder Park. Joe Walsh continued to live in Colorado until he joined the Eagles in 1975.
Those who were lucky enough to see Boulder’s own Zephyr perform in the late 1960s and 1970s still talk about the electric energy the band brought to every performance. Zephyr formed in 1969 and, at the time these photos were taken, featured original members Candy Givens (vocals), David Givens (bass), Robbie Chamberlin (keyboards), and the precociously talented, eighteen year-old Tommy Bolin on guitar. With Candy Givens’s frenetic stage presence, wild, throaty blues vocals, and powerful range and Bolin’s deft skillfulness on guitar, Zephyr was the heir-apparent to Janis Joplin’s blues-rock legacy.
The photographs below of Candy and Tommy were taken by Dan Fong at his Denver 6th Avenue studio in 1971.
Though Zephyr never received the commercial success they deserved, the band is acclaimed today as one of the most influential Colorado bands of the twentieth century and were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2019. For further reading about Zephyr and its members, we recommend the following resources:
Freddi & Henchi and the Soulsetters
Freddi “Love” Gowdy and Marvin “Henchi” Graves, dubbed the “Crown Princes of Funk,” began recording together in Phoenix, Arizona in 1966. They quickly established a unique rhythm and blues/funk sound, punctuated by Henchi’s original choreography, that later inspired the look and feel of bands like Earth Wind & Fire.
Shortly after forming as Freddi & Henchi, the band moved to California. While touring in 1968, they played for two weeks at a local bar in Fort Collins, and two years later, they made Colorado their home. Also known as Freddi/Henchi, Freddi-Henchi, or Freddi Henchi, the Gowdy and Graves were often accompanied by a masterful and diverse crew of musicians, known as the Soulsetters. The band became known for their legendary “Freddi Henchi Parties,” playing to wild, full crowds up and down the Front Range from 1970 through the 1990s, when Henchi Graves finally left the band.
Dan Fong’s photographs of Freddi Henchi ranged from outdoor portraits to live shots from performances at the Skunk Creek Inn in Boulder, Colorado. This shot is from a promotional photo session that Fong shot for the band near Sunshine Canyon, Colorado. As he recalls, Henchi Graves was not happy to be out in the wilderness and told Dan in no uncertain terms. You only have to look at his face to see that it was true.
Freddi & Henchi were inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2019. We recommend you watch the band performing their 1973 hit single, “I Want to Dance, Dance, Dance” - and prepare to dance, dance, dance!