THE OUTLAWS - The First 4... (1975/78)
Southern rock unit the Outlaws were formed in Tampa, Florida, in 1972 by singers/guitarists Hughie Thomasson and Henry Paul, bassist Frank O'Keefe, and drummer Monte Yoho. With the 1973 addition of guitarist Billy Jones, the lineup was complete, and after a year of intense touring the band became the first act signed to Arista under Clive Davis; the Outlaws' self-titled 1975 album spotlighted their Eagles-influenced harmonies and Allman Brothers-like guitar attack, yielding the Top 40 hit "There Goes Another Love Song." In the wake of 1977's Bill Szymczyk-produced Hurry Sundown, both Paul and O'Keefe exited, with guitarist Freddie Salem, bassist Harvey Dalton Arnold, and second drummer David Dix signing on for the 1978 concert set Bring It Back Alive and the studio effort Playin' to Win. The lineup shuffles continued when Arnold announced his departure following 1979's In the Eye of the Storm, with bassist Rick Cua recruited for the next year's Ghost Riders in the Sky, which netted a Top 40 entry with its title track, a rendition of the Vaughn Monroe favorite. Yoho left to rejoin Henry Paul soon after, and with the subsequent exit of Jones, only Thomasson remained from the original Outlaws roster - not surprisingly, the group disbanded upon completing 1982's Los Hombres Malo.
A year later, Thomasson and Paul formed a new Outlaws lineup, adding guitarist Chris Hicks, bassist Barry Borden, and drummer Jeff Howell; after issuing 1986's Soldiers of Fortune, Paul again quit the band, with the remaining quartet returning in 1993 with Hittin' the Road. While Paul resurfaced in 1994 in the chart-topping contemporary country band BlackHawk, Thomasson later toured with the re-formed Lynyrd Skynyrd while continuing to lead the Outlaws, releasing So Low in 2000. Sadly, Jones and O'Keefe died within three weeks of one another in early 1995. In 2005, original members Thomasson, Paul, Yoho, and David Dix reunited as the Outlaws, rounding out the lineup with three members of BlackHawk, guitarist Chris Anderson, bassist Randy Threet, and keyboardist Dave Robbins. Paul and Robbins departed a year later to concentrate again on BlackHawk, while Thomasson, the only original member of the Outlaws to make it through all of the band's configurations, kept things going, reportedly finishing a new studio album, Once an Outlaw, before his death from a heart attack in 2007.
In 2012, a new edition of the Outlaws released a studio album, It's About Pride. Dedicated to Hughie Thomasson, Billy Jones, and Frank O'Keefe, the album featured Henry Paul, Monte Yoho, Chris Anderson, Randy Threet, and Dave Robbins from the Once an Outlaw lineup, alongside new members Billy Crain (guitar) and Joe Lala (percussion). In 2013, Billy Crain left the band due to medical problems, and Joe Lala died in 2014 after a bout with lung cancer. Steve Grisham, who played with the Outlaws from 1983 to 1986, rejoined the group as guitarist. A new concert album from this edition of the band, titled Legacy Live, arrived in 2016.
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