Steve Skinner

Aspen’s Hall of Fame was founded in 1986 to honor those who had a significant and lasting impact on Aspen/Snowmass. There are some amazing names in the hall, but there are so many others worthy of consideration. Please consider every name in this column a potential nominee. There are so many on my list and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Please also consider each person's significant other as an influencer as well.

In 1885, an Aspen census recorded a population of 12,000 including 29 “blacks” and 19 “mulattos.” By 1900, during Aspen’s “Quiet Years,” Hannibal Brown was the only African-American in town for about 10 years. Brown was born in 1876 in Kansas, spent nearly 50 years in Aspen, married several times and worked as a caterer, bartender (even serving cocktails during prohibition) and a driver for the only taxi in Aspen (you might say the original ultimate taxi) and was a chauffeur for the DRC Brown Sr. family.

Gaylord Guenin and Kathleen Krieger Daily wrote a fabulous book called “Aspen: The Quiet Years” with Brown on the cover. The book was even adapted as a play written by Rhett Harper that featured many locals including myself and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member Jimmy Ibbotson.

Speaking of taxis, John Barnes is the driver and owner of the “Ultimate Taxi,” a 1978 Checker cab that has been swinging people around town for almost 30 years. He is an entertainer, photographer and groundbreaking tech freak who has been setting the bar again and again, with lasers, fog, immersive music, LED lighting and now offering overstimulating virtual reality goggles that will boggle patrons right out of their little minds. Barnes put a webcam into KSPN for my morning show about 15 years ago. Is it still there?

The 1980s in Aspen were hardly quiet years and I feel fortunate to have spent that decade galavanting about town with the celebrities, skiers (no snowboarding yet), musicians, athletes, broadcasters, journalists and misfits. Yes, the famous ones were here and I hung out or met many of them, including Jack Nicholson, Jimmy Buffett, John Denver, Leon Uris, Hunter Thompson and countless others. By virtue of being in town, playing in a band and being a broadcaster and caterer, I was able to meet and run into folks like Ted Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Howard Cosell, Paul Simon, Vanna White, Grace Slick, Steve Winwood, Billy Idol and Donald Trump. Okay, I never met Trump, but he was in town and I was looking out for a blaze of orange.

It’s the second tier celebrities and ordinary people that deserve Hall of Fame recognition for sticking it out and working hard to be part of, or to save what was left of, Aspen. These folks defined my Aspen experience and helped make sure there was never a quiet year.

This is kind of a list, and they all deserve their own tribute and I don’t have room for everyone but here goes:

The late broadcaster Frank Ericksen had the ultimate morning show at KSPN and was part of an amazing KSPN posse in the 1980s that included Lee Duncan, Leigh Anne Lindsey, Marie Munday, Marcus Morton, sportscaster Drew Goodman, owner Joyce Hatton and many more.

In my early days at KSPN, I met Carolyne Heldman and helped her produce her audition tape for MTV where she became a VJ and eventually went on to lead Aspen Public Radio for many years. Broadcaster and journalist Brent Gardner-Smith was my college roommate and was a DJ for all the local stations and worked as a relentless reporter at all the local papers and now leads Aspen Journalism, a snappy nonprofit whose reporting helped the city of Aspen give up on the idea of creating a dam below the Maroon Bells.

I was in the office at the Aspen Daily News (then owned by Dave Danforth) when Carolyn Sackariason came in for a job interview (she was wearing a tie). Needless to say she got the job, went on to become the editor of the paper and even dabbled in broadcasting as the news director for Aspen Public Radio, which was founded by Sy Coleman.

Other journalists of note are John Colson, Scott Condon and Janet Urquhart. Sterling Greenwood founded the Aspen Free Press and was the father of famous musician Citizen Cope.

Sandy Munro owned the Great Divide Music Store, a hub of magic in downtown Aspen kitty-corner from Carl’s Pharmacy. It was there that I purchased several guitars and even recorded one of my first albums with Jamie Rosenberg of Great Divide Studio. I still remember my favorite of Munro’s T-shirts that read, “Motivated by Fear and Greed.”

I don’t have room or time, but you should also look into Emzy Veazy, Nancy Pfister, Ursula Shepard, Dan Sheridan, Suzzanne Paris, Steve Cole, Skye Skinner, Pat Milligan, Andreas Fischbacher, Felix and Sarah Tornare, Casey Coffman, Al Vontz, Andre and Jyoti Ulrych, Ginger Garske, John Doyle, Donna and Curtis Robinson, David Bach and Rachel Richards.

 

Steve Skinner's impact may not be significant or long lasting, but he did poach a lot of runs at Aspen, Snowmasss, Highlands and Buttermilk. Reach him at nigel@sopris.net.