While the Tampa, Florida band, the Outlaws, is often lumped into the loose category of southern rock, there is in actuality a distinct difference in their approach, as well as their influences. Their primary similarity with other southern rock bands is their dual-lead-guitar interplay, a defining characteristic of many of the bands thrown into that category. However, the Outlaws' mix of country and rock elements display the melodicism and vocal harmony influences of groups like Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and Poco, as opposed to groups like the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd to which they are often unfairly compared. Their use of multi-part vocal harmonies clearly set them apart from contemporaries that usually relied on a single lead vocalist.
The basic sound of the band was initially rooted around the voice and guitar playing of Hughie Thomasson, who had innate country elements in his technique, but was more of a straightforward rock/blues player. The Outlaws remained so true to their southern rock roots that they rarely moved in other directions. When southern rock veered out of the mainstream in the mid-'80s, many artists made the natural transition to country. The Outlaws, however, remained an American rock 'n' roll band.
Sadly, founding members Jones and O'Keefe died in 1985 (three weeks apart from each other), and Hughie Thomasson died in his home in mid-September, 2007.