The Outlaws are a southern rock band formed in Tampa, Florida in 1972 by guitarists/vocalists Hughie Thomasson and Henry Paul, bassist Frank O'Keefe, and drummer Monte Yoho. The band was the first act signed to Arista Records under Clive Davis. Davis was in the audience at a show in 1974 where the band was opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd in Columbia, South Carolina. At the end of Lynyrd Skynyrd's set, lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant said from the stage: “If you don’t sign the Outlaws, you’re the dumbest music person I’ve ever met—and I know you’re not.”
Hughie Thomasson's signature guitar playing style and voice were defining characteristics of the band's sound. Thomasson's guitar sound was underpinned by the use of the Fender Stratocaster (and sometimes a Fender Telecaster) played in a quasi-country style mixed with fluid, quick blues runs.
The other lead guitarist, Billy Jones, played mainly a Gibson Les Paul and switched between a clean and distorted sound. A good example of this can be heard on "Green Grass and High Tides" on the left stereo channel. Hughie Thomasson's smooth Stratocaster sound can be heard on the right channel. Thomasson opens the first solo at the intro and plays the first half of the two succeeding longer solos all on the right channel. There are many video examples of his Green Grass solos on the internet.
The records released by the band between 1975 and 1980 are considered the best representation of the band's style. The band was seen on successful concert tours billed with other non-southern rock acts of the time. This contrast of styles was more common at that time than the packaged "genre" tours seen so often these days. The willingness of promoters to mix styles led to the Outlaws gaining a large following in the United States.
The albums released after 1980 are largely viewed by critics as a gradual move away from the original sound that gained them success in the 1970s. The reworking of the Western-styled "Ghost Riders" in 1980 was the band's last taste of big league success, although the band released two more records in 1982 and 1986. As the 1980s came to a close, Thomasson became the final original member of the act. Albums such as Diablo Canyon, released in 1994, were released on smaller independent record labels. The band by now was mostly confined to smaller club dates. This situation led to Thomasson accepting the guitar position in the legendary, and by now much more popular, Lynyrd Skynyrd in the late 1990s. This essentially sidelined the Outlaws for a decade, as Thomasson's voice and guitar style were just too integral a part of the Outlaws' sound for the other members to successfully work without it.
In April 2005, original members Hughie Thomasson, Henry Paul, Monte Yoho, and David Dix reunited as the Outlaws and the rest of the lineup was filled out with former guitarist Chris Anderson, bassist Randy Threet, and Dave Robbins on keyboards. The latter three had been with Paul's country group BlackHawk. The two originals not included in the lineup, guitarist Billy Jones and bassist Frank O'Keefe, could not join as they both unfortunately passed in 1995, strangely within weeks of each other. O'Keefe died of a drug overdose, and Jones committed suicide, shortly after. Paul and Robbins left to resume their careers in BlackHawk in early 2006, but the remaining band soldiered on. They were part of the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam tour in the summer of 2007. Band leader Hughie Thomasson died on September 9, 2007, of a heart attack in Brooksville, Florida. obituary report No release date has been announced for the new studio album, Once an Outlaw, that was finished before Thomasson's death.
A cover version of their trademark epic 10-minute track "Green Grass and High Tides" is featured as the finale in the set list for guitar and bass in the video game Rock Band and features two complicated solos.
In December 2007, 2008 Outlaws dates were released. In January 2008, the Outlaws lineup would be revealed to include Henry Paul (guitars/vocals), Chris Anderson (guitars/vocals), Billy Crain (guitars), Jon Coleman (keyboards), Brett Cartwright (bass), and Monte Yoho (drums). This would be the first lineup in Outlaws' history without Hughie Thomasson on guitars and vocals, as from the band's formation to his death, he was the only constant member, garnering him the nicknames "Mr. Outlaw" and "The Lone Outlaw".
Police wary of motorcycle gang ; The Outlaws are suspected in a Portland shooting last week. Police fear a turf war will escalate this summer.
Apr 24, 2005; KEVIN WACK Staff Writer Staff researchers Julia McCue and Susan Butler contributed to this article. Portland Press Herald (Maine)...