Photographer Rick Norcross documented the ‘golden age’ of concerts at the old Tampa Stadium

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The last time Rick Norcross saw the Rolling Stones, he had to be flown in by helicopter.

“That was the situation, otherwise you had to go through all these roadblocks,” Norcross told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. It was Thanksgiving weekend, 1969, and concert promoters had booked a weekend festival at the rural Palm Beach County race track—it was supposed to be South Florida’s answer to Woodstock. But then-president Nixon was in town, and the Stones’ plane had to circle for hours; the band didn’t get to the venue until 4 a.m. It was cold in Florida that weekend, and the Palm Beach Post noted that fans who’d stuck around 10 hours past the original set time “were burning trees, fences, bleachers — anything to keep warm.”

As the Stones head back to the Sunshine State for the band’s only Florida stop happening Friday at Raymond James, CL is visiting Norcross’ “Press Pass” digital collection of more than 100 photos taken during a golden age of touring, 1969-1974. Norcross captured these photos during his stay with The Tampa Times where he was a writer who quickly learned he better start taking his own photos (per his agreement with Tampa Times’ Managing Editor and mentor, H. Doyle Harvill, Norcross retained sole ownership and all rights to the photographs). Norcross—now a working musician trying to make it through two years of lost gigs—culled through his negatives to land at “Press Pass” which is now available on a 16GB USB flash drive which includes the photos, and 34 accompanying reviews. 

Norcross—who also ran the 18th String Coffeehouse & Music Emporium near his old stomping grounds of USF Tampa—has offered a handful of photos all shot at the old Tampa Stadium (aka The Big Sombrero). The shots (except for one of Mick) are from a time when some photogs were granted near unfettered access to the golden age of rock and roll.

See more from other shows—including  Elvis at Curtis Hixon Hall, Pink Floyd at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory and New York Dolls at the Old Florida State Fairgrounds—below. Get a copy of “Press Pass” at Tampa’s Mojo Books & Records (2540 E. Fowler Ave.) or online via presspasstampa.com.—Ray Roa

All photos at Tampa Stadium, aka the Big Sombrero, unless otherwise noted.

| Photos by Rick Norcross