The musical roots of Firefall run deep into the fertile soil of American rock and folk rock. In more than 40 years of making music, Firefall has distinguished itself as one of the top bands in the genre known as Americana. The band helped spearhead the birth and growth of the county rock and folk-rock sound of the 1970s and still remains one of the few remaining torchbearers for harmony-laden rock. It transcends and embraces many labels: rock, soft rock, country rock, contemporary country, easy listening and Americana.
The band got its start in 1973 when Rick Roberts and Jock Bartley met while Bartley was on tour with Gram Parsons in New York City. After Bartley and Roberts returned home to Boulder, Colorado, the duo soon began practicing together. Encouraged to form a band, they enlisted bassist Mark Andes and guitarist Larry Burnett. After Andes and Burnett joined in 1974, the band was called Firefall, a name Roberts is said to have taken from the Yosemite Firefall annual event at Yosemite National Park. Still, with its deep roots in Colorado, Firefall was one of the first bands to bring the creative and musical richness of the Rocky Mountain area to the forefront of the industry.
Firefall went on to earn two platinum and three gold albums with hits like “You are the Woman,” ”Just Remember I Love You,” “Strange Way,” “Cinderella,” “Mexico,” and “Call on Me.” They shared stages with other top bands of the day, including Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Chicago.
Lead guitarist and singer/songwriter Jock Bartley was the common thread through the decades and during periods of changing personnel. For Barkley, the band’s co-founder, Firefall has presented the opportunity to make quality music over the course of four decades. It also represents a personal, heartfelt commitment to maintaining the tradition of the contemporary musical genre he and his peers helped create. Firefall has nurtured its faithful and growing audiences through live performances, which attract new generations of fans. With a wealth of old and new songs, Firefall demonstrates the depth and diversity of the band’s lyrical and musical excellence. The tight harmonies and intricate vocal arrangements are a fresh reminder of what melodic music is all about. The response to the solos and extended “jams” in concerts brings fun and spontaneity to a Firefall show. Today, Barkley tours with original members David Muse and Mark Andes, longtime drummer Sandy Ficca and newcomer Gary Jones. A new album, Comet, was released at the end of 2020 and it is being compared favorably to their best recordings of the 1970s.
For Jock Bartley, it’s a privilege being able to do this thing they love and helped to birth. “I think it’s great that in this day and age of trends that change overnight, a kind of music we helped create 40 plus years ago is still around and growing in popularity.”