HUGHIE THOMASSON REFORMS THE OUTLAWS
by William Turley
THIS PAGE DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF "WILD BILL" TURLEY, ENTERED INTO ETERNAL REST, SEPTEMBER 2005. A TRUE OUTLAWS AND SOUTHER ROCK FAN, AND A HELLUVA GUY....
Hughie Thomasson is a musician's musician. He is a top notch guitarist, singer and songwriter. Think his inimitable style of playing is easy? It isn't. According to Scott Braswell, Guitarist for Charlotte North Carolina based band Rock Bottom, who has studied Hughie's style since 1978, there are some things about Hughie's playing that he still can't emulate. Bobby Booth, Dickson, Tennessee based guitarist and site manager for The Hawk 43 Internet Radio Station, says Hughie's playing stands out in any genre of music, and that his musicanship is second to none.
We spoke to Hughie from his home in Florida shortly before the Outlaws started their first tour since 1996. He spoke with the enthusiasm and excitement of a racehorse getting ready to break out of the starting gate on Kentucky Derby Day, speaking about the Outlaws getting back together and the tour itself.
Is there any reason that Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem North Carolina was chosen as the first city for the 30th anniversary tour?
Hughie: No, our management company booked the shows. Some of our fans were unhappy that we didn’t start the tour in our hometown but it is early on in the tour as it’s our fourth show. We’re very happy to be playing to a hometown audience again. And we’re looking forward to this tour.
How long had you been planning to put the band back together?
We’d talked about it several times but last year we started talking about seriously putting it back together.
Why exactly did you decide to leave Lynyrd Skynyrd?
It was strictly a contractual disagreement. There were no hard feelings. We are all still friends. They will keep on being Lynyrd Skynyrd and being great and I will keep on with the Outlaws. If the opportunity ever came up I would love to do some shows with Lynyrd Skynryd.
Michael Buffalo Smith, who is from South Carolina wanted me to ask you if you mind sharing any memories of the late Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band.
The Outlaws did a lot of shows with the Marshall Tucker Band. We were great friends. On the Southern Spirit Tour the Outlaws were Toy’s backing band. When I was first learning how to play steel guitar we were on tour with them, and I couldn’t afford one. On the last night of the tour I go in our dressing room and there is a steel guitar with a note on it. He gave it to me free. I still have that steel guitar. I’ll never forget that. I really miss him and the world was a better place for him being here.
I heard you sharpen you guitar picks?
That’s right. I don’t order them like that. Either one of the road crew does it or I do it myself. It isn’t a big secret. I am willing to share it with any guitarist that is interested.
If a longtime fan that is a musician or a songwriter had a ong that they thought was Outlaws material would you consider listening to their song and possibly even performing it?
Sure. The Outlaws had other outside writers. Jim Peterek wrote several songs for us. Lynyrd Skynyrd had some outside writers as well. Just because we write songs doesn’t mean we won’t consider any songs that we didn’t write ourselves.
Do you ever get on the internet?
Not too often. I mean there are some times that I do a little bit, but not that much.
There is an Outlaws Internet group that has members that are flying to your shows, and some are going to two or three shows. What do you think about that?
I really appreciate it. We’re looking forward to playing for all the fans again.
Any chance for a DVD or CD?
We plan on cutting a DVD this year. I don’t know when but it will be in Florida. But not on this tour. We plan on going in the studio in January to work on a new CD.
What can we expect to hear on this tour?
Well I don’t want to give anything away but there will be a few surprises. But were pretty much going to stay true to the first three LP’s.
Your tour ends in May. What then?
We’ll start back up again in late summer into the fall. I’d like to do a tour with us a headliner and a third band.
I know a lot of people wonder how you get ideas for your songs. I’d like to ask you how you wrote some of your songs.
There Goes Another Love Song.
We were on the road and Monte came running in the room yelling “Hughie!! I’ve got it!! “ I told him well Monte if you’ve got it maybe you ought to go see a doctor. He said no Hughie, I’ve got it he sang the chorus and I told him I liked it and I would see what I could do with it.
Green Grass and High Tides.
I wrote that song in St Augustine, Florida. We went to a cookout on the beach and everybody forgot to bring their guitars. I was standing by the ocean and there was a breeze and the words kept coming to me. It’s about all the rock starts I liked that died had come back and were playing a show just for me. Like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. And eventually more of course.
That was written in San Francisco and on either the 17th or the 27th floor of the Holiday Inn. I can’t remember which. We were on the road and everybody decided to go out for dinner and drinks. I didn’t feel like going so I stayed in my room. I was lonely and we were a long way from home. Plus the truck driver craze was going on at the time.
Hurry Sundown. Didn’t an episode of Gunsmoke inspire the song?
I don’t know if there was an episode of Gunsmoke called Hurry Sundown or not, but I wrote Hurry Sundown based on an episode of Bonanza. I was in my room and I had the sound off on Bonanza. There was a wagon of gypsies shaking their tambourines. One had died and they were taking her away. That is how the song came about.
Song for You.
The lyrics for Song for You were written around the music. The music came first then came the lyrics.
Stick Around for Rock and Roll.
This is just like Song for You. The lyrics were written around the music.
I have seen you play GGHT for as long as 35 minutes. Any reasons for its variation in length?
Some nights players were hotter than others. If someone was having a really good night their solos were usually longer.
Of all the songs you have written, which are you the most proud of?
That’s hard to say. I like a lot of them but I guess I would have to day “There Goes Another Love Song,” “Green Grass and High Tides,” “Breaker Breaker,” “Hurry Sundown” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” (Hughie didn’t write it but he arranged the Outlaws version)
Angels Hide. I heard that the Hells Angels met with you before a concert over the songs title.
I met with some of them and explained to them that this song was about the Old West and not about them at all. They understood and we all became good friends after that.
Are you in this for the long haul or is this just going to be a short tour?
We are in it for the long haul.
Thank you for your time Hughie, it’s been a real pleasure.
The pleasure was all mine. We’ll see you guys at the shows.