Hootie & the Blowfish got its start at the University of South Carolina and the school is now home to a boatload of the Grammy Award winning rock band’s memorabilia.
Longtime fan Rick Noble on Friday donated his collection of all things Hootie & the Blowfish — including CDs, ticket stubs, an autographed guitar and T-shirts — to the school where the band was formed in 1986.
“The story of Hootie and Blowfish is forever entwined with the University of South Carolina – it’s one of the exciting pieces of our modern history,” Interim President Harris Pastides said in a news release. “Rick’s collection will help capture that story and preserve it for future generations. We are so grateful for his foresight, dedication and generosity in sharing a gift that increases the stature of the University Libraries’ music collections.”
Noble, who is now retired from a career in nonprofit work, including as the long-time CEO of Richland County First Steps, said he’s been collecting the band’s memorabilia since 1993, a year before the band released its debut album, “Cracked Rear View.” He said he first became interested in the band after listening to his daughter’s copy of an early album. Then he connected with band members and its management when they performed at a benefit concert Noble organized.
“They just started giving me T-shirts and other merchandise,” Noble recalled. “And I just went on from there. It was a treasure hunt.”
The band merchandise is the second contemporary music memorabilia collection to come to the University Libraries. A large collection of guitars, photographs and costumes from the rock band KISS was donated in 2020.
Libraries Dean Tom McNally said special collections help attract scholars and students to the university and he hopes other collectors and musicians will continue to donate items for display, teaching and research.
Library staff is in the process of organizing, appraising and preserving the donated items, which also includes drumsticks, a Hootie candle and golf balls. Once complete, a public viewing will be scheduled.
Noble’s donation comes shortly after the University of South Carolina Press released a book about the history of the band, “Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish.”
“It’s such a special, full-circle moment to see his collection come home to the UofSC library and we couldn’t be more thankful to him for supporting both our band and our university,” Darius Rucker, the band’s lead singer, said.