Press Pass Tampa, is a collection of up-close and personal Rock & Roll and Country Music superstar photographs and concert reviews from the pages of The Tampa Times during the Golden Age of the Tampa Music Scene between October of 1969 and September of 1974. Musician Rick Norcross covered music and reviews for The Tampa Times, an afternoon daily newspaper in the 13th largest market in America. Tampa was a major venue for touring music stars of the day and Norcross had free rein to cover any non-classical performance in small clubs, concert halls, stadiums, and rock festivals in central Florida and southern Georgia.
Though Norcross was hired to write reviews, interviews and feature stories about the music scene, he quickly realized it would be to his advantage to shoot his own photographs at the concerts he was reviewing. Given his access and the time he spent in the presence of the stars he was covering, he was in a unique position to capture up-close and personal images himself to accompany his stories rather than depend on the pictures taken by the newspaper’s photographers. When he placed a photo assignment for a concert, the paper sent a photographer who, all too often, would shoot for 15 minutes and then move on to other assignments. So Norcross bought his own camera equipment and film and the Tampa Times ran his photos with his stories and reviews on an unpaid basis. Per his agreement with Tampa Times’ Managing Editor and mentor, H. Doyle Harvill, Norcross retained sole ownership and all rights to the photographs he shot.
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Priced at $35 each.
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The Press Pass Tampa Volume 1 collection is loaded on a USB 2.0 Flash Drive, which holds over 100 original photos and 35 reviews of the artists pictured. Press Pass is priced at $35, which includes postage & handling. All photographs in the Press Pass collection are available for purchase and suitable for framing in sizes 11 X 17, 15 X 21, and 18 X 24.
Over his five years with the newspaper, Norcross interviewed and photographed many of the most famous artists of the century – Elvis, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Elton John, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, The Byrds, Merle Haggard, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton and hundreds of others. With front row, on-stage and backstage access to these artists, access unheard of in today’s atmosphere of super-strict celebrity security, these images are rare indeed. Newspapers routinely retained ownership of staff photographs. A staggering number of daily newspapers have gone dark these days, and the concert photos in their files were tossed when their buildings were cleaned out. So now, these superstar photos from the pages of The Tampa Times are rarer still.
These images have only been seen twice in gallery shows and only in Vermont since they were taken some 50 years ago at mainly Tampa venues, including Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa Stadium, Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, the Tampa Jai Alai Fronton and the old Florida State Fairgrounds. Others were shot at the Atlanta Rock Festival, the Sportatorium in West Palm Beach and at the Palm Beach Rock Festival, as well as the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburgh and at The Old Plantation, the home of George Jones & Tammy Wynette in Lakeland. The cumulative audience count of those who saw these shows between 1969 and 1974 would easily run into 500,000 fans. Over 175,000 people attended the Tampa Stadium shows alone.
Now these photographs emerge to document the spirit and the unbridled energy of rock and roll stars caught at the peak of their careers, many of whom have long since passed away and many who are still rocking, buoyed by the quality of these seminal performances.
Rick Norcross arrived in Tampa in 1966 to attend the University of South Florida and the following year opened and operated The 18th String Coffeehouse & Music Emporium just off the USF campus, a showcase for folk artists from Florida, New York City and London. A former Fine Arts Editor of The USF Campus newspaper, The Oracle, he signed on to cover the music scene for The Tampa Times in ‘69 and left in ‘74 to resume playing music full time. He played the Florida State Fair for 11 years and often performed at the Florida Folk Festival and other folk venues all over Florida and the East Coast. He opened for Dave Mason and Billy Preston at the Bayfront Center in ‘74 and after returning from his third tour of British folk clubs, began splitting his time between his native Vermont and Tampa for the next 25 years. Today, he works out of Burlington, Vermont, where he fronts his award-winning seven-piece western swing band, Rick & The All-Star Ramblers. He has been a touring musician for 60 years and has recorded 12 albums on the Airflyte Records label. In 2016, he was honored nationally by the Academy of Western Artists as writer of the Western Swing Song of the Year, You Can’t Make It Up.”
The Press Pass Tampa, Volume 1 collection is loaded on a USB 2.0 Flash Drive which holds over 100 original photos and 35 reviews of the artists pictured. Press Pass is priced at $35, which includes postage & handling. All photographs in the Press Pass collection are available for purchase suitable for framing in sizes 11 X 17, 15 X 21 and 18 X 24.
Press Pass is Dedicated to The Artists Whose Music Has Touched Our Hearts