Former FSC Student Brings Snapshot of Music History in Return to Campus for Florida History Lecture Series

Feb 7, 2023

by FSC Staff

Nearly 60 years ago, Rick Norcross was a Florida Southern College student.

Now, Norcross is sharing his recollections of his time interviewing and photographing some of the world’s biggest music stars as a part of the Florida History Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 at Branscomb Auditorium.

Norcross’ presentation, titled “From Florida Southern College to London to Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Elton John & Mick Jagger: An Evening of Songs, Stories & Up Close Rock & Roll Photographs,” highlights his storied career as a music journalist and photographer. In Norcross’ stint working for The Tampa Times during The Golden Age of Music (1969-74), he interviewed and photographed stars like Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and famous groups like the Byrds and The Rolling Stones. With front row, on-stage, and backstage access to these artists, Norcross documented the spirit and the unbridled energy of rock and roll stars at the peak of their careers.

“We are delighted to welcome Rick Norcross for an evening of his own music and reminiscences of some of the great musicians of the 1960s and 1970s,” said Dr. James Denham, executive director of the Lawton Chiles Center for Florida History. “His multitude of experiences will make for an exciting and entertaining night of music and stories.”

Norcross’ musical journey began at Florida Southern College after he arrived in Lakeland as a freshman from East Hardwick, Vt. Norcross won the “Hootenanny Contest” at the Polk Theater in Downtown Lakeland, and a year later opened a Greenwich Village-style coffee shop (The Other Room) near the FSC campus. Norcross spent time playing music in the folk clubs of England in 1965 and returned to Florida to pursue a degree in journalism from the University of South Florida, where he started his career as a rock journalist. Since 1974, Norcross has been playing music professionally, working out of Burlington, Vt., with his award-winning western swing band Rick & The All-Star Ramblers. As a touring musician for 58 years, with 12 albums under his belt, Norcross’ stories of rock and his travels are sure to strike a chord with the audience.

The Lawton M. Chiles, Jr., Florida Lecture Series is a forum that brings speakers to the Florida Southern College campus to explore Florida life and culture through a wide range of disciplines, including history, public affairs, law, sociology, criminology, anthropology, literature, and art. The overall objective of the series is to bring members of the community, the faculty, and the student body together to interact with and learn from leading scholars in their fields.