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One from the vault: southern rockers The Outlaws release 1981 concert film

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In the summer of 1981, The Outlaws brought their triple guitar attack and three-part harmonies to Lorelei, Germany for an outdoor concert filmed for the music television program Rockpalast, the country’s most enduring rock music program.

Fronted by guitar-slingers Freddie Salem, Hughie Thomasson and Billy Jones, accompanied by the rhythm section of drummer David Dix and bassist Rick Cua, The Outlaws performed a one-hour set that has just seen official release on DVD, CD and digital on-demand.

Each of the early Outlaws classic hits are represented in live versions, including “There Goes Another Love Song,” “Hurry Sundown,” “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” and a 20-minute set-closing “Green Grass and High Tides.”

Guitarist Freddie Salem, a member of The Outlaws from 1977 to 1983, checked in with The Maine Edge to share his memories of that show and to talk a little Outlaws history. Salem penned the liner notes for the new CD and DVD.

The Maine Edge: The Outlaws were hugely successful during those years when you were part of the band. Describe the band at the time if you could, and the sorts of shows you played.

Freddie Salem: It was an exciting time for The Outlaws. We had some great people on our side, including the British producer, Mutt Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Lady Gaga), and Ron Nevison (Meat Loaf, Heart, Kiss). We started playing bigger venues and joined some huge tours. It was an incredible experience to be part of that.

The Maine Edge: This particular show from Germany is an outdoor show in front of a huge crowd, and I’m guessing English isn’t their first language, yet they all seem to know the lyrics to your songs. Do you know how many attended this gig?

Freddie Salem: I think we had somewhere around 20,000 in attendance that day. “Rockpalast” is a German show that would broadcast from venues all over the country. This Lorelei show took place in what looked like a beautiful natural amphitheater, similar to Red Rocks in Denver, and it sits right on the Rhine River, outside of Frankfurt. It was an exciting day for us in Germany playing with Thin Lizzy.

The Maine Edge: Were The Outlaws surprised to find out that you had such a fan base in Germany?

Freddie Salem: It was a surprise the first time we went there. By 1981, we’d been to Germany a few times, playing Munich, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and other cities. There are a lot of U.S. servicemen stationed in Germany in each of those cities, and many of our German audiences were populated with a lot of US military personnel.

The Maine Edge: What was the most memorable of all Outlaws concerts for you?

Freddie Salem: It has to be the two shows we played with The Rolling Stones at Anaheim Stadium with 110,000 people at each show. We did a lot of stadium shows but when you’re working with the Stones, you see how it’s done. The Stones liked The Outlaws, we were a scruffy roots band and they kind of liked that. There are parties in rock and roll, and then there are the Stones, and nobody had parties like the Stones.

The Maine Edge: I’m going to need some details please (laughs).

Freddie Salem: (laughing) You can imagine the star power The Rolling Stones attract in Los Angeles. I recall getting into an elevator with Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun and Willie Nelson, who just looked around at everyone and smiled (laughs).

The Maine Edge: You did a show with The Eagles too, if I’m not mistaken. How were they to work with in the late 1970s?

Freddie Salem: I believe we did one show with The Eagles, and after that one show they didn’t want us anymore on tour (laughs). They were kind of subdued and artistic, we’ll put it that way. We did a show at a college stadium in South Carolina with Boston and Van Halen, who were just starting out at that point.

The Maine Edge: What were your impressions of Eddie Van Halen?

Freddie Salem: Their first album had just come out a few months before we played with them. During our set, Eddie stood on the side of the stage and watched us. He seemed like just a wonderful kid, a wonderful human being, just compassionate and very, very humble. He never really understood the affect he had on the music business and on guitar players all over the world.

He was on the cover of every music magazine as the new messiah, and he didn’t feel like he deserved that. His mindset was ‘I’m just a kid who plays the guitar.’

After our set, I was backstage talking to Eddie, and he wanted to know how we worked out our three guitar parts in The Outlaws. I told him it takes a little rehearsal so we’re not stepping on each other. He thought about it and said ‘I have enough trouble with just myself and one guitar.’ I ran him into him a few times over the years and he was always happy to see me. He never changed, that’s the kind of guy he was.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 November 2020 07:14


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