Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Student was talented artist, friends say

Student was talented artist, friends say

Ricky David Norris, III, a senior majoring in English from Birmingham, died early Saturday morning of unknown causes. His friends said he was a talented musician and writer, and his presence will be missed on campus.

“He was like the connecting thread between everyone in our group of friends,” said his best friend of nine years, Carter Glascock. “He was such an influential guy that everyone gravitated toward him. He was a genius—a tremendous writer and performer, and this is a devastating loss for the state of Alabama as a whole, I think.”

Glascock, a UA alumnus, said Norris, who was also known to his friends as Tripp, stood for honesty and couldn’t handle being around people who were disingenuous with him.

“Rick was an artist in the truest sense of the word,” Glascock said. “He lived his life by his art, and he was an open book. His whole public persona was about absolute expression, and a lot of music he played was absolutely chilling because of how naked, open, completely unrestrained it was.”

Glascock said Norris had his own unique look and viewed himself as a supremely attractive person.

“He had this crazy curly hair that stuck out and a wild-looking beard,” he said. “He looked like a homeless person, but he always said his whole sex appeal was in his hair. He would joke that he was not handsome but ‘hairsome.’

“I miss his grin most of all,” Glascock said. “He had this smile that just made you feel so good deep down inside. When he smiled at you—he smiled all the time—but when he smiled at you he wanted you to know he meant he loved you.”

Johnny Hicks, a University alumnus who graduated with a degree in business management, said he played in a band with Norris since they were 16 years old.

“He was always the front man,” Hicks said. “He commanded attention, and people would come out to see our band just to watch Tripp perform. He was an entertainer 24/7 — a writer, dancer, singer and all-around showman. He was the funniest and most inspirational person I’ve ever known.

“Tripp had the quickest wit of any of our friends,” Hicks said. “He was the authority on what was funny. You always sought his approval to find out if your joke was funny or not. If it wasn’t, he sure would let you know.”

Because people thought Norris was so funny, Hicks said, he demanded you rise to the occasion and be just as funny as he was, as long as you were not copying him and being uniquely yourself.

“Ever since I’ve known Tripp, he always went through little phases,” said Pat Zicarelli, a junior majoring in marketing. “You could tell what music he was listening to or what author he was reading by how he dressed, because he would adapt to it. He would go from the skater look, to dressing super neat, and for at least three months, the man never wore shoes. He always kept the same personality, but he would change his style.”

Zicarelli said Norris found his muse when he got to college, and the short stories he wrote were amazing.

“In high school, Tripp said the only way he could make it to school feeling all right was by smoking a cigarette and listening to Mozart,” Zicarelli said. “He liked independent films and all kinds of music ranging, from metal to country, but he made it a point to be into things no one else was. He wrote about everything, but he was big into writing short stories about crime.”

Jesi Johnson, a UA alumna who graduated with a degree in psychology, said Norris was easy to get to know because he was so open with who he was.

“He was really a deep and complex character,” Johnson said. “He could be so cynical and offensive and rude, but then he could be giddy and sweet and goofy. And he was always a riot no matter what. He could make anyone laugh.”

Johnson said Norris never met a stranger and had more friends than anyone she has ever met.

“They are not just friends that he parties with or talks to occasionally, but close friends that could tell you a million stories about him and really, really loved him, ” she said. “I don’t really know how to describe it, but his presence was really unique and powerful.  At shows sometimes he would face the wall while he sang with his back to the audience and his eyes closed. I always thought that was cool and really indicative of his personality.”

Visitation will be held today at Mountain Brook Community Church from noon-1:30 p.m. Services will follow at 2 p.m.


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