Outlaw gone good? Ever hear the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky”? It was featured in film Blues Brothers 2000. It’s been around for a long while in the Country genre with roots in what used to be know as Western as in Country & Western.
It was recorded again in 1975 on the debut album by a group of “southern rockers” from Tampa, FL called The Outlaws. The song gained Rock radio airplay and The Outlaws career was launched. Two years after he became a Christian in 1977, Syracuse NY based musician Rick Cua joined the Outlaws. He sang and played bass on two albums before they disbanded in 1982. At some point before the Outlaws break up, Rick was introduced to the Christian Music scene by former Paul McCartney & Wings drummer, Joe English. Rick’s debut Koo-Ah (the pronunciation of his last name) on Refuge Records featured many general market guest musicians from bands like Wet Willie, The Outlaws plus independents like Joe English and Robbie Dupree, who charted a top 10 hit of his own in 1980. In fact, Dupree and Marty McCall (of Fireworks and later First Call) did background vocals on Cua’s single “Fly Me To Heaven” which was released to the general market. All this was very cool stuff for 1981 – 1982. The radio spot that Refuge Records produced to introduce Rick Cua used the theme “Outlaw gone good”, complete with pistol shoots and ricochet sound effects straight out of a good Western TV show or movie.
I first met Rick Cua around a single day outdoor festival event in suburban Chicago that a few hundred people attended called the Harvest Rockfest. In the lineup was Prodigal, Fireworks, Rick Cua (who had guitarist Dave Perkins in the backing band with him that day – and turned many heads with his awesome slide guitar work), Denny Correll and DeGarmo & Key playing from 1pm until about 11pm when the authorities told us to stop. There is a lot more to share about how the Lord used that humble event to His glory but that is for another blog. For someone who hung around the southern rock and stadium scene with the likes of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynryd, Rick Cua was remarkably well grounded and down-to-earth. I might offer my two cent opinion that his bass playing style and sound is distinctive. Certainly not your garden variety rock bass playing (think KISS). He’s the only bass player I’ve ever seen headline solo without a band in concert and pull it off with just backing tracks. That is really quite a feat of showmanship and performance.
Over the years, Rick turned down offers to play in other touring bands like Spyro Gyra in 1983 and a re-formed Outlaws lineup in 1986 since he became known for his Christian Music. His wife and daughters have helped — I know he credits his wife Diana for some of the beautiful love songs he writes and a song each is dedicated to his two daughters on Within Reach. Listen for “Diamond Girl” and “Fifteen” this Saturday. Included are some unique cuts from Like A Cool Drink, his project with the Ah-Koo-Stiks and a clever word play on his name even if he hasn’t become a household one. But after nearly 30 years of music ministry on the run (so to speak), Rick Cua has lived up to the moniker, “Outlaw gone good.”
1. Fly Me to Heaven from Koo-Ah
2. You Can Still Rock ‘n’Roll from Koo-Ah
3. He Lives In Me from No Mystery
4. One Way Out from No Mystery
5. Changed from No Mystery
6. Help Me Out from No Mystery
7. Don’t Say Suicide from You’re My Road
8. Wear Your Colors from Wear Your Colors
9. Forever Yours from Can’t Stand Too Tall
10. We Are All The Same from Can’t Stand Too Tall
11. For The Love of God from Can’t Stand Too Tall
12. I’ll Be Satisfied from Midnight Sun
13. Young Boy, Young Girl from Midnight Sun
14. Heaven Won’t Stop The Rain from Within Reach
15. Message of Love from Within Reach
16. Fifteen from Within Reach
17. Diamond Girl from Within Reach
18. Dedicated from Midnight Sun
19, What If from The Way Love Is
20. Itala Americano from Times Ten
21. Bull By The Horns from Times Ten
22. Jesus Changes Everything from Like A Cool Drink
23. Gotta Have Heart from Like A Cool Drink
24. Bad Things Good People from Like A Cool Drink
SnT Radio.com will play one song approximately every hour from this list beginning at 12:00am EST Saturday, October 1, 2011.
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