by Sandy Atkins
HARDWICK – Before there was Rick and the Ramblers Western Swing Band, there was Rick Norcross, music writer and reviewer for the Tampa Times. From the golden age of rock and roll, Norcross has resurrected his collection of photos of some of the most famous artists of the Twentieth Century. He’s put them on a flash drive and called it all Press Pass.
The spirit of rock and roll is captured in this rare collection of photographs by Norcross, who has roots in the Hardwick community. During his stint at the Tampa Times between 1969 and 1974, Norcross was in a unique position to capture up-close and personal images of rock and roll stars caught at the peak of their careers.
From the front row, on stage and backstage, Norcross covered small clubs, concert halls, stadiums and rock festivals in central Florida and southern Georgia. And what coverage he had: The Allman Brothers, Bo Didley, Elvis Presley, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Pink Floyd, and so much more.
Browsing through the Press Pass collection, you’re flung back to the song track of a youth full of the music of Tina Turner, the Eagles, The Byrds. And country stars too: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, The Carter Family, Chet Atkins, George Jones, and Tammy Wynette, to name a few.
These black and white photographs capture the intimacy of backstage and the energy of the performance up front.
Also included on the Press Pass flash drive are the articles and reviews that appeared in the Times under the Rick Norcross byline. These reviews catch the electricity of each performance and are a rare view into the history of a legendary music era.
There’s a young Bob Dylan and The Band. Look at the Beach Boys adjusting their audio equipment. See Cher silhouetted in the shadows of the bright lights. Norcross has an eye for the interesting angle that will tell a story.
In addition to the rare performance photos and accompanying reviews, the Press Pass drive contains bonus color photos and four MP3 files of Rick’s most recent recordings. So much on a tiny piece of data storage. This would be a perfect gift for someone who lived through those turbulent times.
As a touring musician, Norcross admits that bookings have fallen off recently. But he’s pulled together these gems from his past, providing an unprecedented and unique peek into a magical, mythical era.
Press Pass photos are also on display at the White Water Gallery in East Hardwick.
Each flash drive costs $35 and may be ordered from the web site rickandtheallstarramblers.com