Hughie Thomasson-The Outlaws

Hi All,

This is a tribute to the late HT (Hughie Thomasson) Myself and my friend Andrew Clem from the Boss Br site done a collaboration. Andrew’s lyrics are fantastic and a voice like one of the Van Zant’s brothers in my opinion. This is the result. If you would like a go at putting your own lead guitar in , you can download the backing track at the bottom of the page.

 Hugh Edward Thomasson Jr.

Guitarist and songwriter Hugh E. Thomasson Jr.- better known as Hughie Thomasson, was born in Tampa, Florida on August 13th, 1952. Father of 2, loving husband for over 20 years, and founding member of The Outlaws; Thomasson died in his home on September 9th, 2007 of an apparent heart attack while asleep. He performed his last concert with The Outlaws on September 8th in a Nevada casino.

Hughie Thomasson dedicated most of his life and music talent to the Southern-rock band The Outlaws, a group that upon debut rocked the 70’s with a solid triple lead guitar attack, and albums like their self-titled ‘The Oulaws’, ‘Bring it Back Alive’ and ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’. In 1996, during the longest hiatus in The Outlaws’ career, Thomasson was a member of the iconic southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, which he left in 2005 to reform his founding band.

During his whole music career, Hugh E. Thomasson amazed the world with his rousing Strat and Telecaster country-blues rock riffs, his jovial spirit and charitable musicianship.  He is known in Florida, as well as everywhere around the world for offering benefit concerts for various different causes. Having being influenced by great performers like The Eagles, The Byrds, Neil Young and many of the rock-blues – “British Invasion” -bands that impressed the US in 1964, Hughie Thomasson had plenty of inspiration to add to his talent; and he surely transmitted that well through his songwriting and music-making.

Before passing away, Hughie Thomasson had been working on the production of a new album called ‘Once an Outlaw,’ a release which’s date still continues to be determined by the continuing band members.

In spite of having disbanded and reformed several times, despite going through extended line-up changes and switch ups; notwithstanding a recovery after the tragic loss of original members Hughie Thomasson, Frank O’Keefe and Billy Jones, today The Outlaws continue to play, still remaining faithful to that country/blues/hard-rock, powerful guitar driven style that Thomasson passionately evoked in his founding.

The Outlaws – The Early Days

“I like to think of us as the hard-rock version of The Eagles”
Hughie Thomasson to the Tampa Tribune during an interview in 1988


1. Outlaws (1975)
2. Lady In Waiting (1976)
3. Hurry Sundown (1977)
4. Playin’ to Win (1978)
5. Bring it Back Alive – Live (1978)
6. In the Eye of the Storm (1979)
7. Ghost Riders (1980)
8. Los Hombres Malos (1982)
9. Soldiers of Fortune (1986)
10. Hittin’ the Road Live! (1993)
11. Diablo Canyon (1994)
12. So Low (1999)
13. Once an Outlaw (TBD)

The Outlaws formed in Tampa, FL in 1967. Then called The Rogues, and later The Four Letter Words, the original members include H. Thomasson (guitar), Hobie O’Brien (guitar), Frank Guidry (guitar), David Dix (drums), Phil Humberg (bass) and Herb Pino (vocals).  The name The Outlaws came along when Guidry joined the group and offered his former band’s name as their title.
Hobie O’Brien and Phil Humberg left the band a year later, giving place to Frank O’Keefe to take over the role of bassist.
Upon failing their first attempt to record an album at Epic Studios in New York city because of a difference of opinion with the recording producer, Guidry left the band dissatisfied with Paul D’s management.
A second, also failed, attempt was made in Miami’s Criteria Studios where the same issues with the producer came in the way of the albums release.

A fear of dissolution haunted the band upon the recurrent failure. They tried several line-up changes to improve and ultimately achieve their signature sound.
With O’Keefe switching over to play a third guitar, Ronny Elliot joined to take on bass, but with Elliot’s departure in ’69, O’Keefe resumed his role at the bass. Upon substituting David Dix temporarily, Monte Yoho eventually became a permanent member and new drummer of The Outlaws.
New changes arose once again in 1971 when Paul D.  and the band brought their relationship to a close. Henry Paul (guitar, vocals) joined this same year, and friend Billy Jones (guitar) was also summoned.

The Outlaws – The Prime Years of The Florida Guitar Army

With a new, solid, three-guitar lead line-up, persistent Thomasson at hand of new manager Charlie Brusco, guided The Outlaws into popularity.
Brusco established a partnership with Alan Walder, manager of the group Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Soon after, in 1974 and upon Ronnie Van Zant’s recommendation, Clive Davis of Arista Records signed The Outlaws, after seeing them perform with Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Columbus Civic Center in Georgia.
With a triple lead guitar attack, they released their self-titled debut album in 1975 and sold incredibly well. Consequently, The Outlaws gained increased recognition over the years with hits like “There goes another love Song” and “Green Grass and High Tides” that reached #13 in Billboard’s Hot 100.  Their live album ‘Bring it back Alive’ granted the band an even higher profile status in the Southern Rock music genre.

The Hiatus – Thomasson in Lynyrd Skynyrd

During early 1980 the band’s popularity dramatically decreased, as they began to drift from the original sound that once attracted their audiences. Their re-worked release of  ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ sold gold and gave The Outlaws a reinstated spot at the top, sustaining their popularity during the, not as well-liked, release of their follow-up records.
By the beginning of the 1990’s Thomasson was the only original member from The Outlaws that remained, something that aided him in his decision to take an offered guitarist spot in VanZant’s Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Reform and Final Demise of The Outlaws’ Hughie Thomasson Era

Until 2005 and for over 9 years, Hughie Thomasson played for Lynyrd Skynyrd, leaving then to reform The Outlaws with David Dix, Henry Paul, Monte Yoho, Chris Anderson, Randy Threet (bass) and Dave Robbins (keyboards). The only two members who did not rejoin were late Billy Jones and Frank O’Keefe who had both passed-on in 1995 from suicide and overdose, respectively.

Upon reforming in 2005, The Outlaws began touring and performing almost anywhere that they could. The band played everywhere, from free shows in honor of the American troops in Ohio, to benefit concerts to sustain scholarship endowments for students at the Pasco-Hernando Community College in Florida. In 2007, the band was performing in the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam and touring extensively, playing with artists such as Dickey Betts and the Marshall Tucker band.

On September 9th of 2007, after having had dinner with his wife; Hughie Thomasson passed away from a heart attack while asleep in his sofa chair, at his home in Brookville, FL.
The band hurt profoundly from Thomasson’s death, but managed to move on and continue the legacy Hughie had worked so hard to establish. They group still hasn’t announced the release of the last album written and produced by Thomasson ‘Once and Outlaw’.


Lyrics & vocal by Andrew Clem

Guitars by Tony Jones


10 thoughts on “Hughie Thomasson-The Outlaws

  1. Wow! Great updates to the tribute you have here! The video turned out nice too. Really was an honor to work with you on this song. Your guitar work really amazes a lot of people.

  2. it was a pleasure working with you Andrew.
    Andrew told me all his singing was done in the car so i told him to wind the windows down so everyone could hear his great voice.

    Tony J.

  3. I still remember,and ALWAYS WILL!!!,first listening to Hughie when The Outlaws got to the “big time” in the mid-’70’s-especially the song “Green Grass and High Tides”…I still put the tape on and play my bass to it!!!…I was quite shocked and saddened upon learning of his untimely passing,and I can only offer my sincerest
    condolences to his wonderful family…

    I had the good fortune to see the Outlaws with Molly Hatchet at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in the early ’80’s-what a great show!!!!!!-rest in eternal peace,Hughie
    and ALWAYS find those “Green Grass and High Tides” FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

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