The university welcomed a new collection of Hootie & the Blowfish memorabilia to Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library on June 3, bringing a piece of the band back to where it all started.
The collection, donated by fan Rick Noble, consists of everything from a guitar signed by the four band members to specialty wine bottles. Noble said he decided to donate his items after Darius Rucker wanted to put on a concert for USC students following the women's basketball national championship win.
After messaging interim university President Harris Pastides about giving his collection to USC, Noble said he was excited to see that the university was looking forward to receiving the collection.
“One of the things that Harris said at the very beginning is, ‘We will take care of this,’ and that meant something to me,” Noble said.
Noble, previously the CEO of Richland Country First Steps, first listened to Hootie & the Blowfish after hearing their 1993 EP, "Kootchypop", from his daughter. Noble then bought the CD off his daughter and began his journey following the band.
Even though his collection is more extensive than the average fan of Hootie & the Blowfish, Noble said he never considered himself to be a groupie of the band.
“I’m not an expert on Hootie & The Blowfish. I’m not a historian,” Noble said. “I just really respected the guys and how they handle themselves, how they represented the university.”
Over the years, Noble has added to his collection by going to concerts and even receiving merchandise from the band’s management team. For the last 10 years, he and his wife, Lynne Noble have stored the items in tubs, never opening the containers. When moving the items from their home in Asheville, NC, to Columbia, Lynne said she never realized how much stuff they had.
“We had to bring two cars to bring (the items) down,” Lynne said.
Despite having to part with most of his collection — except for a box of items that he will continue to maintain — Noble said that he is ready for other people to be able to experience the collection for themselves and said he feels like it will be in "good hands."
“It doesn’t do anybody else any good if it’s packed away,” Noble said. “I’m gonna walk out of here today and feel very relieved that the university has it and will take care of it.”
Along with the public being able to see Hootie & the Blowfish’s progression, Elizabeth Sudduth, the associate dean for special collections, is looking forward to seeing the collection be used for research.
“(We’re) very excited about people coming to do research — starting their research on the band here with this collection since it is such an excellent overview,” Sudduth said.
Before the public can access the collection, Sudduth said that the items still have to be assessed and then organized by the library to store every item appropriately. Once this is completed, Sudduth said the university hopes to create an exhibit showcasing all of the band’s memorabilia.
For right now, Sudduth said anyone who would like to view the collection, can contact her directly until the items are appraised and housed correctly.