When Parker Schnabel first recruited Rick Ness to become a part of his team on Gold Rush, Ness had no experience in the industry, nor did he demonstrate any past desire to learn. In fact, Ness’s job was just about as far from gold mining as you could get – playing bass in a traveling string band.
Ness met Schnabel back in 2012 at a state fair in Alaska where Ness’ band, .375 String Band, was performing. For almost ten years, Ness, then 31 years old, had been the bass player of the fairly successful band, but when he started speaking with the 18-year-old prodigy of Gold Rush, he was ready to change his tune.
“When I met [Schnabel] it was, it was kind of a pivotal spot in my life where I was just coming off of a decade of playing music,” the Gold Rush star told Looper. “My life was traveling the world, you know, playing music eight months a year, and I was dead set on being done with that — I didn’t know if it was going to be permanently, but definitely a long break.”
Just nine months later, Ness joined Schnabel’s crew in Season 3 of Gold Rush. Eventually, Ness would work his way up the ranks and become Schnabel’s foreman before retiring from the crew completely to start his own team. But at the time that Schnabel and Ness first crossed paths, the former bassist believed life could have taken him in any direction.
“Maybe I would have ended up in Alaska because I was that set again to Alaska to do something for a summer. Maybe I would have been doing something completely different in Alaska that would have only lasted one season,” Ness speculated. “Or on a fishing boat or something.”
‘Gold Rush’ Star’s Family Did Not Expect the Sudden Shift in Career Paths
Even though Ness has proven his worth on Gold Rush as both a crew member and a boss, at the time when Schnabel hired him, no one expected the drastic career change – least of all Ness’ father.
“My first year up there, I don’t think my dad believed in it at all. He just didn’t get it.And I understand that,” Ness told Entrepreneur. “When I meet people and they ask what I do and I say I’m a gold miner, they’re usually like, ‘People still do that?’”
Even Schnabel, himself, admitted that Ness wasn’t the typical mining candidate.
“Rick is the opposite type of guy for this,” Schnabel said. “He smokes like a chimney, drinks [a] pile of beer … his type of workout is to lift a pile of weights and he does not do cardio.”
The Gold Rush star further explained that Ness “likes being comfortable and he’s really the last guy who should be doing something like this, but I wanted to get him out of his comfort zone and see what happens.”