For The Outlaws, it’s always been about the music. For more than 40 years, the Southern Rock legends 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: It’s about a band of brothers bound together by history, harmony and the road. It’s about a group that respects its own legacy while refusing to be defined by its past. But most of all, it’s about pride.
It’s About Pride was also the title of the band’s acclaimed 2012 album, universally hailed as their victorious comeback. “Because The Outlaws had been out of the public eye for so long, it was almost like starting over,” explains founding singer/songwriter/guitarist Henry Paul. “But because of the band’s history, we dig deeper, write better, perform stronger. Everything we do is to reinforce the notion that The Outlaws still matter, and that Southern Rock will always matter. It’s a message we’re proud to bring into the 21st century.”
History lesson: Formed in Tampa in 1972, The Outlaws – known for their triple-guitar rock attack and three-part country harmonies – became one of the first acts signed by Clive Davis (at the urging of Ronnie Van Zant) to his then-fledgling Arista Records. The band’s first three albums The Outlaws, Lady In Waiting and Hurry Sundown – featuring such rock radio favorites as ‘There Goes Another Love Song’, ‘Green Grass & High Tides’, ‘Knoxville Girl’ and ‘Freeborn Man’ – would become worldwide gold and platinum landmarks of the Southern Rock era. Known as ‘The Florida Guitar Army’ by their fans, The Outlaws earned a formidable reputation as an incendiary live act touring with friends The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band and The Charlie Daniels Band as well as The Doobie Brothers, The Who, Eagles and The Rolling Stones. Henry Paul left after the group’s third album to form The Henry Paul Band for Atlantic Records, and later co-founded the multi-Platinum country trio Blackhawk. Over the next 20+ years, The Outlaws would experience rampant personnel changes, tonal missteps, ill-fated reunions and bitter trademark battles that left fans, not to mention Paul, frustrated and saddened. And with the tragic deaths of co-founding members Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones in 1995 and songwriter/vocalist/lead guitarist Hughie Thomasson in 2007, it was feared that The Outlaws’ trail had come to an end.
When Henry Paul took leadership of the band in 2008, he firmly put The Outlaws back on a path both trusted and celebrated by longtime fans. “Audiences discovered that The Outlaws have something to say that is as engaging as when we began,” says Paul, “which is why every night when we perform, we give nothing less than everything we’ve got.” Along with founding member Paul, the band features several of Southern Rock’s most respected players: Keyboardist/vocalist Dave Robbins is a co-founding member of Blackhawk and has written hit songs for artists that include Restless Heart, Kenny Rogers and Eric Clapton. Longtime Outlaws’ bassist/vocalist Randy Threet has performed with Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis and Blackhawk, and is familiar to TV audiences from USA Network’s ‘Nashville Star’. Co-lead guitarist and vocalist Jimmy Dormire brings a wealth of experience and has performed with Col. Bruce Hampton and Confederate Railroad. Drummer Mike Bailey who replaced beloved co-founder/drummer Monte Yoho in 2019 – has played with BlackHawk and Adam Craig, and vocalist and co-lead guitarist Jeff Aulich has brought new fire to the band’s harmony arrangements and six-string pyrotechnics. “Today, we write about the things that collectively mean something to us and play like a band half our age,” Henry says. “When you still have the reason and ability to do that, you can reiterate your position as a significant creative force.”
As live performers, the band burns hotter than ever. “The Outlaws helped define Southern Rock for me and for generations of fans,” wrote music journalist Bill Robinson in The Huffington Post. “Seeing them onstage with The Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd or countless others was, for a long time, one of the best experiences I could have. And so it was again when I saw The Outlaws play recently.” The band’s concerts – vividly captured in their 2016 double album Legacy Live – are blazing 2+ hour tributes to the band’s rich history and fiery rebirth. Classic tracks and fan favorites from the first three albums – as well as The Henry Paul Band’s definitive ‘Grey Ghost’ – share the spotlight with songs from It’s About Pride and 2020’s acclaimed Dixie Highway that have been enthusiastically embraced by audiences. “I think our new material goes back to those first three classic albums, when the band was proud of its influences from country, blues and jazz,” says Paul. “Plus, Dale and Jeff have honored and maybe even stepped up the legacy of the ‘guitar army’. Our goal is to unite the fans and bring the band back into the light. It’s about finishing what we started.” For Henry, Dave, Randy, Dale, Jaron and Jeff, it’s also about a band of brothers who love playing their own brand of rock, and who 40+ years ago first got the chance to share it with to the world.
For The Outlaws, it’s still about the music. And now more than ever, it’s about pride.