Jock talks with G. Brown about taking guitar lessons from jazz legend Johnny Smith (0:53), heading to Boulder and replacing Tommy Bolin in Zephyr (8:04), touring with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris (10:45), Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young joining them onstage (15:53), meeting Rick Roberts and the birth of Firefall (16:39), getting a record deal (19:45), adding David Muse and recording the band’s classic debut album (21:44), a visitation from Eric Clapton during the recording of “Mexico” (25:29), opening the Rumours tour for Fleetwood Mac (27:54), Firefall’s place in the “Colorado Sound” (28:55), the fracturing of the original lineup and the brief addition of a female vocalist (31:00), keeping Firefall going and the workings of the music industry (34:28) and a new cover of Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” featuring guest Timothy B. Schmit (40:00).
Born in Kansas, Jock Bartley moved to the mountains above Colorado Springs in 1959 and, at nine years old, began taking guitar lessons from jazz guitar great Johnny Smith. He joined the Boulder-based band Zephyr, replacing Tommy Bolin as lead guitarist, then connected with Gram Parsons’ touring band, the Fallen Angels featuring Emmylou Harris. He met singer-songwriter Rick Roberts on the road, and the two jammed back in Boulder with Mark Andes (Spirit) and singer-songwriter Larry Burnett. With the addition of Michael Clarke (Byrds) and multi-instrumentalist David Muse, Firefall was formed. Colorado’s biggest success story of the 1970s, the band landed seven hit singles on the Billboard Top 40 and scored three gold and platinum albums. Bartley has endured, continuing to tour with the Firefall name.