Lifestyle & Luxury
We can safely assume that the British Blues-rocker Joe Cocker sang in the shower at Mad Dog Ranch, his home in Crawford. Yet the home was intentionally designed without a music studio according to the gritty-voiced Grammy-winner’s widow, Pam Cocker.
The property with eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and an elevator, sold to new owners in December 2017, after three years on the market. But the Cockers built the custom home, made it their primary residence, and left their indelible mark on the rural Colorado community. “We had been looking for a winter home site for years,” Pam Cocker wrote in an email. “Joe did a show in Telluride, in June of 1991; and we fell in love with the area. We came back in September of 1991, and toured all around western Colorado before finding our ranch in Crawford. After we sold our home in Santa Barbara, we spent all our time in Crawford—except when touring.”
Her favorite place in the mansion was the library.
“Joe’s favorite was the billiards room. We spent most of our time together in the morning room and kitchen, and we loved our (1,500 square feet) bedroom suite,” she says. “We always had dogs—Fern, Mikey, Ben and Chili—and cats—Corky and Harry.”
The home features stone fireplaces, cherry wood floors and paneling, distressed timber beams, leaded windows, French doors and gold-leaf crown molding. Outdoors, lush lawns and gardens, a one-acre swimming pond, two commercial greenhouses, and barns complete the estate.
The Colorado landscape beguiled the Cockers.
“The area is magic. The pristine views, mountain trails and weather just can’t be beat,” Pam Cocker says. “Both Joe and I hiked the area extensively.”
One might upon first sight assume that Joe Cocker wanted an English Tudor manor as an ancestral tether to his homeland, but the house amalgamates architectural elements the Cockers admired.
“We took pictures of different aspects of different homes we saw across Europe,” Pam Cocker says. “The turret may be English, but the staircases on the north side are very Italian. The columns are of Moorish design.”
The architect of record for the house was John D. Kelley, who met the Cockers when working at their property in California.
“Joe’s music career meant a lot of travel, so the Cockers wanted a refuge away from crowds where Joe could fish, Pam could raise horses and cattle, and they could entertain guests. They envisioned a large country home that could accommodate large gatherings in rural Needle Rock Valley,” says Kelley.
The realtor who sold the property, Mandy Nadler, says the home’s unique character and secluded location are precisely what make the estate so attractive and so difficult to close.
“The property is one of a kind—very impressive and beautiful in an absolutely breathtaking setting,” Nadler says. “But this is a very small, rural, farming and ranching community; and this is the only house remotely like it in whole area. It was a very challenging listing not only because of the spectacular home and the grand scale of it, but because of where it is.”
The house sold for $3.875 million, but Nadler says the property would cost much more elsewhere: “If you dropped this house in Vail or Aspen, it would list at $15 million.”
The unofficial name of the place bows to the 1970 Leon Russell-produced tour, album and film titled “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” after a 1931 Noel Coward song. But Cocker didn’t dub his home Mad Dog Ranch, according to Pam Cocker: “A friend carved a sign with that name on it, and it just happened.”
The architect’s primary influence for the mad dog manor was Glencraig, an estate in Newport, Rhode Island, designed in 1926, by Harrie Lindeberg.
“The Cockers chose a north-facing slope with exceptional views of Land’s End Peak and the West Elk Wilderness,” Kelley said. “Using a linear arrangement of the main living areas brings the benefits of views on the north and natural light from the south to all the rooms.”
The home’s building materials help make the immense residence more low-impact.
“The Colorado buff stone and stucco used throughout the exterior complement the Rocky Mountain setting. The home combines these rustic materials with traditional architectural features including a stone entry tower with a welcoming motor court, Gothic-arched windows, tall chimneys, window bays, and steeply pitched roofs with dormers and multiple gables,” Kelley says.
His floor plan provides privacy and frames spectacular scenery. He says, “The two-story T-shaped plan with a centrally located round stair tower gives convenient access to all areas of this large home while providing separation and privacy. The main east-west axis provides all the main rooms with spectacular mountain views, easy access to the large north terrace, and generous warmth and light from the south.”
For Kelley, the home combines the best of the old world and the new: “One of my favorites aspects of the home is the unique blend of rustic comfort, traditional design elements, and extensive modern amenities,” says the architect.
The new homeowners contacted Kelley about adding a swimming pool—an amenity sure to serve mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun.
“I really miss the land and the beautiful walks, but not the house without Joe in it,” Pam Cocker says. “It was time for the ranch to have a new family to love it and appreciate it. I wish them the best and hope they spend many years enjoying the North Fork Valley.”
Joe Cocker’s former home in Crawford
The property: Built in 1944, the residence is just under 16,0000 square feet on 243 acres bordering tens of thousands of acres of BLM land
Sold for: $3.875 million in December, 2017 by Mandy Nadler of LUX Realtors
Colleen Smith—also a music writer and a long-time Joe Cocker fan—has contributed regularly to Colorado Expression, as well as many publications such as Fine Books & Collections, Faerie Magazine, Sunset, Coastal Living, Art & Object, and The Denver Post.
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