Meet Rick Ness: 4 Things to Know About Gold Rush Star

By Jennifer McDonough Posted:
Rick Ness from Gold Rush

Rick Ness, who has been with Discovery’s Gold Rush since nearly the beginning, is back in full force with Season 14 after being largely absent from the show’s thirteenth year.

The popular reality show Gold Rush explores the business of gold mining in Canada and Alaska. Over the years, Gold Rush has been so successful that it’s spawned quite an impressive number of spin-offs.

4 Facts About Gold Rush Star Rick Ness

Rick Ness in Gold Rush
Rick Ness

Rick Used To Play Bass in a Band

Ness, who was born on March 5, 1981, was once the bassist for the .357 String Band. The band was formed in 2004 in Ness’ hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and ultimately broke up back in 2011. The type of music they played could be described as “bluegrass on steroids.”

As Rick Ness himself told it (to Monsters and Critics), the .357 String Band was sorely lacking a competent bass player, so one day, after a show, he volunteered his services:

“I must have been 22 or 23 years old. I went to a concert to see a different band. But this other band was opening up. Their bass was terrible…I mean absolutely awful. So I approached them after the show. And asked them to give me a shot. And that’s how I ended up in the band. That was around 2003.”

Eventually, Ness left the group when he decided to focus on his mining efforts: 

“I really felt like I needed to be home more often. But then, I decided to start up gold mining, which obviously meant I wouldn’t be home as much after all!“

Rick Is a Big Fan of Desert Racing

Rick Ness has a special fondness for the off-road sport of desert racing which he began participating in in 2021. He made a Facebook post to commemorate his very first race. In his words, it was an “incredible and humbling opportunity:”

“After a much needed break from social media, this past weekend served as a great reason to jump back in. With the help of so many great people I was able to test my skills in my very first desert race. The Best in the Desert Parker 250. I had the incredible and humbling opportunity to race beside some of the best teams in the world.”  

He went on to thank Evolution Powersports, who built the vehicle he used in the race:

“None of this would have been possible without my friends at Evolution Powersports. I can’t thank them enough and I can’t speak highly enough about the quality and performance of not only every part they develop and manufacture but especially the car they built for me to race.”

Ness first acquired a taste for off-roading when Evolution Powersports let him do a test run in 2020, as he stated in another Facebook status update.

Rick Left Gold Rush Season 13 Due to Mental Health Issues

In 2022, Ness made the important choice to put his mental health first, even if that meant he needed to step away from his role in Gold Rush. He commented to People Magazine that he had “a lot of things going on” concerning his mental wellbeing:

“I was having some mental health issues. There was a lot of things going on. I’m a gold miner with the stigma there. I don’t really ask for help, you know what I mean? I’ve always been that way. And it’s just some things were going on in my head, and I didn’t know what it was, because I didn’t know anything about depression and things of that nature. And so I just thought I’d deal with it myself and try and figure it out, which is tough when you don’t know what you’re dealing with.”

Despite gold mining being, per Ness, “a very fickle business” he said that the break from doing the show was a necessary one: 

“If I hadn’t, the direction this train was running [in] was not a good one… I had to take a step back. It was not good for business, but it was good for me. And at the end of it all, I’m just fortunate I have another shot at this.”

Rick Ness personally believes his diagnosis is that of Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), in which the changes in seasons can have a dramatic impact on mood and depressive states (via Distractify).

Rick’s Tattoos Tell a Story

Ness, as one can easily tell by looking at him, is a fan of tattoos and is no stranger to getting them. Most of his ink has an emotional, sentimental significance behind it, like the anchor tattoo that he has to commemorate his grandfather (via Monsters and Critics):

“They’re mostly tales of a misspent youth. I don’t know. A lot of them I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into if I’m being honest. I mean I’ve got a few that mean a lot to me. I’ve got something from my grandpa in my hand. It’s an anchor with a rope on it that turns into a banner that says “perseverance”. That was the name of my grandpa’s boat.”

He also explained the unique spin that one of his tattoos puts on the Virgin Mary:

“I’ve got “get busy living or get busy dying” tattooed across my chest because I’ve always felt that way. The one on my neck is the one that people always ask about and nobody knows what the hell it is. It’s actually the Virgin Mary with a piston for a head and I call it the holy mother of horsepower.”

Where Can Fans Follow Rick Ness Online?

Ness can be seen on a variety of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter.)

Gold Rush’s Season 14 finale will air on Discovery on Friday, January 21.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.