Those were the days
December 1, 2011
My band the Starlite Ramblers started playing the old Red Onion nightclub in 1976. It was a special place, as was Aspen in those days. We played cowboy and big-band swing. Our signature songs were “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “The Auctioneer” and songs written by Gary Mcmahan, who drove the stagecoach taxi in town and worked at the T Lazy 7 guest ranch.
There was a wall that separated the dining room from the club that the manager, Deder, would raise around 11 p.m., opening up a beautiful red-carpet showroom. There were celebs every night in the audience. It was the place for gourmet dining and a good-time drink. John Denver hired us to play a celebrity fundraiser there, and we backed him on several songs.
This was a time when Aspen was still a small, hippie-type ski town. There were no big hotels by the slopes. There was a full city block that was tepee-shaped buildings that sold T-shirts, cookies, head-shop supplies and cheap gifts. You could get your smoke and blow there. Aspen was famous for its powder, both on and off the slopes.
We ate for cheap at the crepe wagon or the crepe bar just inside a building of arts-and-crafts dealers. This was before McDonald’s came to town.
You could still buy an old house in town for $20,000 or $30,000, and we thought that was high! A nice condo rented for $50 per night.
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The Aspen State Teachers College was a place where locals went to get smashed, and there was a hot disco for the dress-up crowd. The popular apres-ski band was the Aspen Flyers, and Starwood – the band – was trying to make it big.
So there’s a quick trip back in time. I don’t know if anyone is still there from those days, but if you are, I hope this brought a little smile to your day.