For The Outlaws, it’s always been about the music. For more than 40 years, the Southern Rock legends have celebrated triumphs and endured tragedies to remain one of the most influential and best loved bands of the genre. Today, The Outlaws have returned with new music, new focus and an uncompromising new mission that makes it clear it’s about the band of brothers bound together by history, harmony and the road. It’s about a group that respects its legacy while refusing to be defined by the past. It’s about pride.
The Outlaws was formed in Tampa in 1972 and quickly became known for triple guitar rock attack and three-part country harmonies. At the urging of Ronnie Van Zant, The Outlaws were one of the first acts signed by Clive Davis to his new Arista label. Their first three albums, The Outlaws, Lady in Waiting and Hurry Sundown were gold and platinum landmarks. Known as “The Florida Guitar Army,” The Outlaws’ reputation grew as an incendiary live act touring with friends like The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band, as well as the Doobie Brothers, The Who, the Eagles and the Rolling Stones. The band experienced personnel changes and bitter battles over trademarks that left the band’s members and fans saddened and frustrated. When songwriter/vocalist/lead guitarist Hughie Thomasson died in 2007, it seemed as if The Outlaws had reached the end of the trail.
Then came It’s About Pride. It wasn’t only their mantra, it was their comeback album. When it debuted in 2012, it received critical acclaim, original band member Henry Paul spoke of its importance to the band. “Because the band had been out of the public eye for so long, it was almost like starting over,” he said. “Because of the band’s history, we’re still seeing this as a new chapter. What our fans loved then is what they still love now, because we are just as good, or even better than we were.”
For Monte Yoho, a band co-founder, this part of the journey is both bittersweet and jubilant. “I still think about the friends we made when we first came into this industry, how we struggled to define this thing that became known as ‘Southern Rock.’ The Outlaws still embody all the things we shared musically and personally, most of all the relationship we have with our fans to this day.”
Today, The Outlaws has Paul and Yoho, as well as several of Southern Rock’s most respected veterans, including keyboardist and vocalist Dave Robbins, a co-founding member of Blackhawk; long-time Outlaw’s bassist and vocalist Randy Threet; lead guitarist Steve “Grits” Grisham, a former Outlaw; and co-lead guitarist Dale Oliver, formerly lead guitarist of Blackhawk.
“From the beginning, The Outlaws had heart.” Yoho said. “A lot of people who come out to see this incarnation of the band now are responding to the exact same things we used to put on stage in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
For Paul, The Outlaws are back, with pride. “I want people to see our show, hear our new songs and realize that The Outlaws are back,” he said. “Our goal is to unite the fans and bring the band back into the light. In a way, this is like a second chance at my first love; it’s about finishing what we started.”
It’s about the pride.