Since their formation in Tampa in 1972, The Outlaws have celebrated success, grieved lost band members and now will delight in a new start after a long break from the music scene.
For Outlaws vocalist and guitarist Henry Paul, music captured his attention from an early age.
“Like many kids, music was an important part of my life,” Paul said. “I sang along to the radio and dreamed of one day having a career as a singer/entertainer. My first opportunity came along when I was in my late teens and I knew being on stage and communicating with an audience was something that came natural to me.”
The country rock band, which will perform at the Grange Fair on Aug. 28, toured with well-known bands such as The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Doobie Brothers, The Who, Eagles and The Rolling Stones.
Despite this early success, the Southern rock band only recently returned to the music scene. The Outlaws released the album “It’s About Pride” in 2012 after 18 years of no new album releases.
For Paul, the newest album symbolizes a fresh start.
“Because The Outlaws have been out of the public eye for so long, it’s almost like starting over,” he said. “But because of the band’s history, we’re seeing this as a new chapter. We’ve written and recorded this album on our own terms, and we’re out to make a significant impression. What our fans loved then they still love now, but most of all, they recognize the heart and sincerity we put in our music.”
For co-founding member Monte Yoho, the journey has been bittersweet.
“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,” Yoho said. “This new album embodies all the things we shared musically and personally, as well as the relationships we have with our fans to this day. It’s about where we’ve been, where we’re going, and why we still love to do this.”
Although the band has seen many changes since its beginning, the current members are Paul on lead vocals and guitar; Yoho on drums and percussion; Dave Robbins on keyboard and vocals; Billy Crain on lead guitar and vocals; Chris Anderson on guitar and vocals; and Randy Threet on bass and vocals.
The deaths of co-founding band members Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones in 1995 and Hughie Thomasson in 2007 were major barriers for the band. Despair blocked their hope for the future, Paul said.
“The Outlaws were the one area of my career where I had regrets. More importantly,” he said, “I think it was the one area in my career where I thought I still have something to prove. I felt compelled to stick my neck out and take a chance of putting this band back together. I knew we would be judged, but I hoped we would be judged on our abilities.”
Yoho thinks fans will respond positively to their return, just as they did in the band’s glory days.
“From the very beginning, our band had a heart,” Yoho said. “And a lot of people who come out and see this incarnation of the band respond to the exact same things we used to put on that stage in the ’70s and ’80s.”