About Press Pass

Press Pass 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 was the music writer and reviewer for The Tampa Times, a 70,000 circulation 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 during those very special years of music.

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 photo department. When he put a photo assignment in for a concert, the paper sent a photographer who, all too often, would shoot for 15 minutes and then moved on to their next  assignment. So Norcross bought his own camera equipment and film and the Tampa Times ran the 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.

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 back stage access to these artists, access unheard of in today’s atmosphere of super-strict celebrity security, these images are rare indeed. Newspapers usually retained ownership of staff photographs. A staggering number of daily newspapers have gone dark these days, and the majority, if not all, concert photos in their files were thrown away when their buildings were cleaned out. So now, these superstar photos from the pages of The Tampa Times are rarer still.

These images have 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. 

Norcross is the first to admit that Rock & Roll Journalism is all about being at the right place at the right time with the right camera gear. His very first Tampa Times music assignment, on November 16, 1969, was to cover a concert held in Tampa’s Curtis-Hixon Hall, headlined by Janis Joplin and B.B. King. Norcross was “armed” with his father’s WW II era Leica M-3 range finder camera. Janis Joplin’s show took a turn for the unexpected when many hundreds of young fans rushed toward the stage, much to the chagrin of the Tampa police doing concert security. When police officers attempted to move the crowd back, Joplin said to the police, ”Get out of my show. If you’ll just move, I promise we won’t hurt anybody.” And then to the crowd, she said, “You got to remember, it’s up to us. We start f***ing with each other, it’s f***ing over.” Due to the disruption and the ensuing attempts to reseat the crowd, Janis Joplin only performed seven songs that night before being hustled off-stage and out the back door where she was promptly arrested by Tampa police and charged with two counts of “indecent language.” The incident and Norcross’ concert photos of Janis Joplin were picked up by the Associated Press and run in newspapers across the country. One of his photos of Joplin also ran in Time Magazine. A promising start for a first night of “rock journalism”.

Press Pass is loaded on a 16 GB 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 the photographs in the Press Pass collection are available for purchase suitable for framing. Photos are available as prints in sizes of 11 X 17, 15 X 21 and 18 X 24. 

In the 50 years since shooting these images, musician Rick Norcross has toured extensively and recorded a dozen albums on the Airflyte Records label. Four new songs from his upcoming CD release, “God Bless The Mighty Pickle,” are included.

PRESS PASS MUSICIAN PHOTOGRAPHS:

The Allman Brothers
Atlanta Rock Festival
B.B. King (2)
The Band & Bob Dylan
The Beach Boys
Bill Graham
Bo Didley
Bob Weir
Bobby Sherman
Carl Perkins
The Carter Family
Johnny Cash (3)
Cher (2)
Chet Atkins
Chuck Berry

Clarence White (2)
CSN&Y (2)
David Crosby
Dickie Betts
Bob Dylan (3)
Elton John
Elvis Presley (4)
Eric Clapton
The Everly Brothers (2)
George Jones and
Tammy Wynette (2)
Gregg Allman
Graham Nash
Humble Pie
James Taylor

Janis Joplin (3)
Jeff Beck
Jerry Garcia (2)
Jesse Colin Young
Jethro Tull
Jimmy Page – Led Zep (2)
Johnny Winter
John Sebastian
Bernie Leadon (Eagles)
Leon Russell (3)
Manasass
Margaret Whiting
Mel Tillis
Merle Haggard
Mick Jagger (2)

The New York Dolls
Pink Floyd
Ray Davies (2)
Righteous Brothers
Robby Robertson – The Band
Robert Plant – Led Zeppelin
Roger McGuinn – The Byrds
The Rolling Stones
Sonny & Cher
The Statler Brothers
Stephen Stills (2)
The Byrds (2)
Tina Turner
Tom Jones
ZZ Top

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