Rick Noble donates a treasure trove of memorabilia to the band
Posted on: June 3, 2022; Updated on: June 3, 2022
From Megan Sexton, email@example.com, 803-777-1421
Rick Noble is quick to say he’s not a Hootie & the Blowfish groupie. He’s just a big fan.
How large? His Hootie memorabilia chart tells the story. It catalogs the CDs and T-shirts, ticket stubs and posters, Monday after the masters programs and record store banners, drumsticks and Hootie golf balls. The list goes on.
And it’s all going into the University of South Carolina libraries.
Noble, who has retired from a career in nonprofits including serving as longtime CEO of Richland County First Steps, is donating his extensive Hootie collection to the four band members’ alma mater. Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld met and founded Hootie & the Blowfish while they were students at UofSC.
“The support of fans like Rick Noble over the past 30 years has made it possible for the dreams we had as South Carolina students to become a reality on stages around the world,” says Rucker. “It’s such a special moment to come full circle, to see his collection take it home to the UofSC library and we couldn’t be more grateful to him for supporting both our band and our university.”
It is the second memorabilia of contemporary music to enter university libraries; A large collection of guitars, photographs, artwork and costumes from the rock band KISS were donated last fall. Library Dean Tom McNally said the two collections show the library is open to the changing nature of collections – and collectors.
“The WWII generation collected books and manuscripts because they were a generation of readers. The baby boomer generation heard and loved music. We’re finding a whole new field of collecting with the rock bands that people love so much,” says McNally. “These are things that are going to be significant for research, and they’re really fun to watch. From an exhibition point of view it is wonderful.”
Years of collecting
Noble, a lifelong music fan who has collected everything from stamps to pottery, says he first became interested in Hootie when he heard his daughter’s edition Kootchypopan early EP released by the band in 1993.
“I really liked the band and the music. I liked the way they treated themselves. I liked the fact that they met at USC,” says Noble.
Then in 1995, when Noble was involved in organizing the Olympic women’s marathon trials in Colombia, the band agreed to perform a benefit concert for the race. The show raised $45,000 towards the marathon exams and further bonded Noble with the band and their management.
“And they just started giving me stuff – t-shirts and other merchandise and whatever. And I just moved on from that. I admit a compulsive tendency. But it was just a treasure hunt.”
The story of Hootie & the Blowfish is forever tied to the University of South Carolina – it is one of the most exciting pieces of our modern history.
Interim President Harris Pastides
Noble, his wife Lynne, and their children moved to Columbia in 1979 when Lynne accepted a position at the university. Rick Noble was the founding CEO of Communities in Schools in 1987 before working at First Steps from 2000 to 2018. After living in Columbia for 40 years, the couple retired and now split their time between homes in Asheville, NC, and New Brunswick, Canada. His Hootie collection, housed for many years at their home in the Shandon area of Columbia, has been moved to his home in North Carolina, where it is housed in large Rubbermaid tubs.
This spring, as Noble watched the Gamecocks women’s basketball team run to the national championship, he heard Rucker promise a concert and watched interim president Harris Pastides celebrate on the court after the final game.
“I emailed Harris and it said, ‘I have this great collection of Hootie stuff. I want to donate it to the university.” And I mean he replied within five or ten minutes and he was very enthusiastic.”
“The story of Hootie & the Blowfish is forever tied to the University of South Carolina – it’s one of the most exciting pieces of our modern history,” says Pastides. “Rick’s collection will help capture this story and preserve it for generations to come. We are so grateful for his vision, dedication and generosity in sharing a gift that enhances the value of university library music collections.”
Noble’s conversation with Pastides led to Noble attending Rucker’s concert at Colonial Life Arena in April and meeting with library staff about his collection.
“Everyone at the university was great. Not that I would be surprised. I think that’s indicative, certainly of (Pastides), and also the style of the university, which is just so gracious and so welcoming and so grateful,” says Noble.
Soon the Hootie collection will be back where it all began for the band.
“Hootie & the Blowfish have always been very special to the university and have definitely supported the university,” says McNally. “So what would be a better place for your collection?”
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Topics: alumni, university management, university president, collections, careers, university libraries