‘Gold Rush’: The ‘Pivotal’ Moment When Rick Ness Met Fellow Miner Parker Schnabel

by Amy Myers

Like many of the stars on Gold Rush, mining wasn’t the first major career on mine boss Rick Ness’ rap sheet. Up until 2012, Ness led a completely different life, never thinking that he would end up on a reality show following hardworking miners. However, after meeting the young prodigy, Parker Schnabel, the then 31-year-old decided it was time to try something new. Since then he’s never looked back.

Back in 2004, Rick Ness began his 10-year career as the bassist and backbone of .357 String Band. Ness, or “the Rickness” as fans often called him, played alongside three other talented individuals in the gothic country band. Together, they toured North America and Europe until 2012. In popular songs like “Snow in the Pines” and “Hell in Your Cold, Cold Heart,” the future Gold Rush star showed just how talented of a musician he was. However, like a siren calling a sailor into the waters, the former musician would soon find himself on a different career path.

In the band’s last year together, .357 String Band traveled to Alaska for the state fair. It was there that the bassist met Gold Rush star, 18-year-old Parker Schnabel. Ness expressed interest in the mining industry before the two returned to their respective lives. At first, nothing happened and Ness continued to debate the end of his music career. Then, nine months after the show in Alaska, the Schnabel called Ness and offered him a job on his team. To Ness, it felt like the stars had aligned and offered the perfect opportunity for him.

‘Gold Rush’ Star Says He Might Have Ended Up ‘on a Fishing Boat’

“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.”

This isn’t the first time Schnabel has changed the course of a fellow star’s life. Previously, while in Papua New Guinea, the young Gold Rush star met a medic named Fred Lewis, who he later invited on the show. Without meeting Schnabel that fateful day in Alaska, Ness revealed that he wasn’t sure where he would be today or what he would be doing.

“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.”

While Ness surely would have made a great crew member on Deadliest Catch, we’re glad that the former bassist ended up in Klondike, Yukon instead.