I started a conversation with Henry Paul with a little phone conversation around Labor Day 2008. Here is the interview that preceded the phone call.
The Florida Years: Henry lived in Temple Terrace, went to King High. He knew he wanted to be an artist and had settled on music by the time he left high school in 1967. He had the goal, and nothing else mattered once he locked onto music.
Someone turned him onto Beaux Arts, and he performed there from 1966 to 1969. He remembers Danny Finley, Stanley Powell, a dark-haired guy with glasses who tended a dam. Eric Van Schmidt was a big star at Beaux Arts who lived in the Sarasota area.
Henry kind of started out with the Buddy Klein, Richard and Michael group, which turned into Baldwin and Leps. We talked about Dewey Gatos and I told him about the Baldwin photos I shot in Dewey’s teepee, which are posted on the Beaux Arts site.
Rick Norcross had the 18th String in North Tampa, which he promoted quite heavily through connections at the Tampa Tribune. Rick pushed himself to national prominence and was responsible for bringing the national stars into the Tampa Bay Area with his self-promotions. Rick now lives in Vermont has a band called Rolling Thunder which opens for Henry sometimes.
The National scene: Like many Beaux artists, Henry was feeling the urge to move and he left Tampa in 1969 to tour the country with the Outlaws. In 1974 the band was lucky to be the first rock band signed by Clive Davis on his new Arista Records label after he left Columbia Records. “His ego was riding on their success so they were going to succeed.” Henry sold several million Blackhawk records based on the corporate strength of the labels.
The first week of the Outlaws success in 1975, Henry was in Denver staying at the Oxford Hotel. Jack Elliot was living there, sleeping on a bedroll in one of the rooms. Paul Rothchild was handling A&R for Jack.
“Arista records president Clive davis signs the band in Spring of 1975 – one of the new label’s first signings and their very first Rock group. Eric Kronfeld represents The outlaws, and Paul Rothchild (who’d produced The Doors and Janis Joplin) is selected as producer of the band’s self-titled debut album. Recording in Los Angeles that May, the group lives at the infamous Tropicana Motel. The album is released in late August and just four months later, peaks at #13 on the Billboard Album chart. Soon after, the album is certified Gold. The band embarks on a coast-to-coast tour with The Doobie Bros., and The Outlaws’ national reputation as a great live band is quickly established. ” – About the outlaws
Song-writing is Henry’s crowning achievement. What matters most. He gets up every morning and does it, whatever needs to be done to keep it going. He is working on an adult/chhildren’s book which is being illustrated now, and is also writing a holiday play for production next year. This is an American spiritual play about giving back to find a pathway to your own beliefs.
“Leadership is everything.” Henry learned to give in to let go of his ego and go where the truth lies. “If you are willing to relinquish credit, there is no end to how far you can go… to put the Outlaws back together, (after the death of Frank O’Keefe, Billy Jones, and most recently signature singer/songwriter/guitarist Hughie Thomasson) …to go out on tour with Blackhawk and the Outlaws this year…
“Keeping a band together is a success story. He keeps the Outlaws and Blackhawk together at once, not many bands do that. A few bands do spinoffs. Some of the Allman Brothers put together Government Mule, a jam band that took on a life of its own.
“Christianity is for people who are afraid”, spirituality is for people who are beyond fear.” Taking the metaphysical view, belief in the moment, allows one to look forward to the future with hope, by absolving you from fears and guilt about the past. The past happened and the future will take care of itself.
Henry took some advantage of his “rock star” status until he had a life-altering, out-of-body experience that woke him up. He realized he is not in control. His song “Forgiveness” is about wiping the slate clean. Henry realized that through confession and forgiveness, he could become a better person, free and exonerated. Througout his career Henry has always figured out how to create his own opportunities to reach his goals. And he’s still going strong: Henry Paul in concert