In the final segment taken from my recent interview with Henry Paul, he reminisces about the band’s first visit to Europe in 1976. He also expresses his desire for the Outlaws to make a long-overdue return to these shores, once ‘Legacy Live’ is released.
The Outlaws visit to the UK proved to be an important milestone for the band. What better way to make their mark than with a string of stadium shows supporting English superstars, The Who.
At the time, the Southern rock genre was generating significant interest from European fans. Lynyrd Skynyrd had already completed three UK tours, in the process amassing a sizable and loyal following. The Marshall Tucker Band had also toured the UK in 1974.
The Who tour was seen as a opportunity for the Outlaws, with their distinctive mix of country and rock, to carve out a special niche and make a name for themselves. The rest of the bill for those June dates was formidable too: Little Feat, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Streetwalkers.
Henry recalls, with fondness, those heady days: “Bill Curbishley (Who manager) was our European manager. Peter Rudge (Skynyrd’s manager) was instrumental in orchestrating that relationship.
“When we were given the opportunity to open for The Who, at that moment we were riding high and we had some success and acceptance in America. When Curbishley stuck us on those dates, we went out and we did what we were good at doing at that time, which was putting an energetic performance on and winning over a new audience and new potential fans.”
In Scotland, on the second date of the tour, the Outlaws walked out on stage at Glasgow’s Celtic Park to be greeted by a 40,000-strong crowd.
“It was exciting for us because we had never been out of the United States and we were on foreign soil, driving around Wales and Scotland in a tour bus with our wives and significant others.
“We were feeling an enormous sense of accomplishment and luckily for us the audiences liked the band well enough. We were able to turn in a performance early in the day that was memorable and respectable and we didn’t get booed or disrespected! We played hard and won over the audiences.
“At that time I thought we had a really good foothold in the United Kingdom and of course we played in Holland (PinkPop Festival) on that trip too. Unfortunately, we just never came back and continued to come and play. We just let it go. I think the band fell into some sort of….I don’t know how to put it, their were problems within the group. We never really had a cohesive agenda to make Europe a priority.”
Henry is adamant that he wants to right that wrong and is keen to promote the new album, ‘Legacy Live’, with shows in Europe: “I have always wanted to develop a European audience. We are at the mercy of the promoters, the people who find the Outlaws to be interesting or viable or want to partner up with us. I believe that will happen, I want that to happen. Part of the reason I got involved with SPV was to help make that happen.”
Footnote: It was not mentioned during the interview, but the Outlaws actually played one more UK date after their ’76 visit. On August 23, 1986 the band made an appearance at the Reading Rock Festival. Their album ‘Soldiers of Fortune’ was released the same year.