Hall & Oates is an American musical duo composed of Daryl Hall and John Oates. They achieved their greatest fame in the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s with a fusion of rock and rolland rhythm and blues styles, which they dubbed "rock and soul."[citation needed] Critics Stephen Thomas Erlewine and J. Scott McClintock write,[1] "at their best, Hall & Oates' songs were filled with strong hooks and melodies that adhered to soul traditions without being a slave to them by incorporating elements of new wave." While much of the duo's reputation is due to its sustained pop-chart run in the 1980s, they continue to record and tour, and remain respected by various artists for their ability to cross stylistic boundaries.

They are best known for their six No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Rich Girl", "Kiss on My List", "Private Eyes", "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)", "Maneater", and "Out of Touch", as well as many other songs which charted in the Top 40. In total, the act had 34 singles chart hits on the US Billboard Hot 100, seven RIAA platinum albums, and six RIAA gold albums.[2] Because of that chart success, Billboard magazine named them the most successful duo of the rock era, surpassing The Everly Brothers.

In 2003, Hall and Oates were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of FameBillboard magazine had Hall & Oates at No. 15 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time and the No. 1 duo,[3]while VH1 placed the duo as No. 99 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

Background[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Daryl Franklin Hohl (born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania on October 11, 1946) [4] and John William Oates (born April 7, 1949)[5] first met each other at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia in 1967.[6] At the time they met, each was heading his own musical group, Hall with The Temptones and Oates with The Masters. They were there for a band competition when gunfire rang out between two rival gangs, and in trying to escape, they ran to the same service elevator.[6] On further discovering that they were interested in the same music and that both were attending Philadelphia's Temple University, they started spending time together on a regular basis and eventually shared a number of apartments in the city.[6] One of the apartments they shared had "Hall & Oates" on the mailbox, which became the duo's name.[7] It would take them another two years to form a musical duo, and three years after that, they signed to Atlantic Records and released their debut album.[8][9] The two didn't seriously start working together until 1970 after Oates got back from an extended stay in Europe.[4]

1972–1974: First albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Early in their recording careers, Hall & Oates had trouble clearly defining their sound, alternating among folksoulrock and pop. None of their early albums - Whole OatsAbandoned Luncheonette and War Babies - were very successful, despite being produced by such big-name producers such as Arif Mardin and Todd Rundgren. They had no hit singles during this time period, though Abandoned Luncheonette contained "She's Gone". This song would be covered by Lou Rawls and Tavares before Atlantic Records re-released the Hall & Oates version in 1976. "She's Gone," as covered by Tavares, did go to Number One on the R&B charts in 1974. It was originally written for Hall's first wife, Bryna Lublin (Hall), and initially inspired by Oates' being stood up on a date on New Year's Eve. Another Abandoned Luncheonette single, "Las Vegas Turnaround", was written about (and mentioned by first name) Hall's girlfriend, flight attendant and future songwriting collaborator Sara Allen. Despite the fact that none of the Atlantic were huge national hits, at least in Minneapolis-St. Paul, a number of tracks on the "Abandoned Luncheonette" received significant airplay on local FM station KQRS, resulting in the album being quite a big hit locally. This (and what other regional success the album achieved) was enough to push the album into the charts, reaching #33 and staying on the charts for 38 weeks.

1975–1977: First hits[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Hall & Oates left their first record company, Atlantic Records, after the release of War Babies to join their second label, RCA Records. Their first album for the new label Daryl Hall & John Oates (often referred to by their fans as the silver album because of the silver lamé material on the original album cover) was their first legitimate success. It contained the ballad "Sara Smile," a song Hall wrote for his aforementioned girlfriend Sara Allen. It also featured an album cover in which Hall and Oates are overly made up with cosmetic blush to the point where they looked like women, especially the long-haired Hall. Hall would later say in an interview for VH1's Behind the Music that he looked like "the girl I always wanted to go out with" on that album cover.

"Sara Smile" became their first Top 10 hit, reaching Number 4 on the chart in June 1976. "She's Gone," re-released by Atlantic Records after "Sara Smile" also went to the Top 10, reached Number 7 in October 1976. Hall & Oates followed those hits with the more pop-oriented Bigger Than Both of Us later that year. Though the first single from the album—the Philly soul-oriented ballad "Do What You Want, Be What You Are"—barely made the Top 40, their second single was a smash. The song "Rich Girl" was Hall & Oates' first Number 1 hit, reaching the pinnacle for the week ending March 26, 1977.

1977–1980: Leaner years and Sacred Songs[edit source | editbeta]Edit

After this small run of hits, Hall & Oates still encountered difficulty getting radio play. Despite touring constantly and recording albums with efficiency, the duo could not find any pop success for a number of reasons, mainly because of the popularity of the disco genre. By the time they released the rock-oriented albums Beauty on a Back Street in 1977 and Along the Red Ledge in 1978, disco music was trendy and taking most of the spots in popular music. Hall & Oates released X-Static in late 1979, which combined rock with dance music but the album did not fare well although "Wait For Me" did hit the top 20. They did release a few hit singles during this period: the follow-up to "Rich Girl" ("Back Together Again") hit the Top 40, and "It's A Laugh" (from "Along The Red Ledge") hit the top 20 in 1978. In 1977, RCA attempted to push Daryl Hall to the fore with his first solo effort Sacred Songs. However, after being presented with the highly experimental recording (produced by Robert Fripp of King Crimson), RCA became unwilling to release what was, in their view, a non-commercial album. "Sacred Songs" was eventually released in 1980.

1980: Voices[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The 1980s brought about significant changes for Hall & Oates. The pair felt that the biggest hindrance to their success was that their music was being filtered through outside producers, and that studio musicians were not familiar with their own tastes and thoughts. They also wished to capture the sound of New York City which, by then, had become their home. As a result, instead of recording in Los Angeles, as they had done previously, they decided to record atElectric Lady Studios in New York, just five minutes away from their apartments, and began producing their own recordings with their touring band backing them in the studio. They also enlisted Hall's girlfriend Sara Allen (and also her younger sister Janna) as songwriting collaborators, as well as beginning a working relationship with Neil Kernon, an engineer on Voices who would work as co-producer on their succeeding two albums.

The resulting album, Voices, was written, produced and arranged by Daryl Hall & John Oates in one month, according to their authorized biography Dangerous Dances (by Nick Tosches), and was notable for having a clearer style and better sound than their previous releases. The first two singles from the album charted fairly well, with "How Does It Feel to Be Back" charting at Number 30. The well-received cover of The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" just missed the Top 10, peaking at Number 12, but spent 14 weeks in the Top 40. After the release of that song, Oates' contribution as the lead vocalist diminished on future releases. The third single "Kiss on My List" hit Number 1 in April 1981 and remained there for three weeks. The follow-up single "You Make My Dreams" reached Number 5 in July of that year.

The other well-known song from Voices is the emotive ballad "Everytime You Go Away", with powerful lead vocals by Hall, who wrote it. British singer Paul Young had a Billboard Number 1 hit with a cover of the song in 1985. Though the Hall & Oates original (recorded in a Memphis-soul style) was never released as a single, it remains a fan favorite on the duo's greatest hits albums and was featured on their Apollo Theater CD in 1985, and is frequently featured in their live set to this day.

1981: Private Eyes[edit source | editbeta]Edit

By the time "You Make My Dreams" was falling off the charts, Hall & Oates had already released their follow-up album Private Eyes. Having worked in the studio while Voices was at its peak in popularity, the two had already recorded most of their material and felt there was no need to repeat the previous album's formula. The result was the first Hall & Oates album to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and the four singles from Private Eyes all reached the Top 40.

The title track and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" were nearly consecutive Number 1 hits, separated only by the ten-week stay at Number 1 by the monster hit "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" was one of the few songs ever recorded by a white act to reach Number One on both the R&B and the pop charts. "Did It in a Minute" reached Number 9 in the spring of 1982, and "Your Imagination" peaked at No. 33. This album is now considered among the duo's best albums, mixing soul, new wave and power pop.

1982: H2O[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Their next album H2O, a very polished, synth-heavy effort, became the duo's most successful album to date. H2O reached Number 3 on the album chart and spawned three Top 10 singles. "Maneater", the biggest hit of their career, reached Number 1 on December 18, 1982 and stayed there for four weeks. The ballad "One on One" and a cover of Mike Oldfield's "Family Man" reached Number 7 and Number 6 in March and June 1983, respectively.

We try and take chances. Our new single "Maneater" isn't something that sounds like anything else on the radio. The idea is to make things better.

Daryl Hall - NME - November 1982[10]

According to John Oates, they recorded approximately twenty songs for the album, of which nine didn't make the final cut. He went on to say they usually would have five or six tracks left over per album.[11]

"One On One," with its clever mixed-metaphorical references to romance and basketball, was used in NBA commercials of the period.[12] The commercial featured numerous players, including Hall of Famer James Worthy performing a 360-degree slow-motion lay-up during the saxophone solo.[13]

For the H2O album, Hall & Oates made some permanent changes to their current band. Drummer Mickey Curry, who had appeared on some Private Eyes tracks, including the title song, replaced Jerry Marotta full-time. Bassist Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, who had mimed John Siegler's bass line in the "Private Eyes" video, replaced Siegler full-time. These two joined the band's holdovers—lead guitar player G.E. Smith (according to G.E. Smith himself, "G.E." stands for "great entertainment"), and saxophonist Charlie "Mr. Casual" DeChant. De Chant and Wolk continued to perform with the duo until Wolk's death in early 2010, while Curry returned for the Do It for Love sessions.

1983: Rock 'n Soul Part 1[edit source | editbeta]Edit

By the fall of 1983, Hall & Oates were one of the biggest pop music acts in the United States. They had five Number 1 singles to their credit, two consecutive Top 10 albums and were one of the biggest names on MTV. A cover of the 1957 Bobby Helms classic "Jingle Bell Rock" was recorded and released in time for Christmas 1983, complete with a humorous video of the band, that received extensive airplay on MTV. In 1983, they released their first greatest hits album entitled Rock 'n Soul Part 1. The album peaked at Number 7, and the two new songs that were written and recorded for that LP also became Top 10 hits as well.

The first single released from this album "Say It Isn't So" battled six weeks for the Number 1 spot with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson's "Say Say Say" at the peak of Thrillermania. "Say It Isn't So" remained at Number 2 for an impressive four weeks from December 1983 to January 1984. The battle with the McCartney/Jackson single led disc jockey Peter Bush of New York's WPLJ Radio, which had just switched from rock to Top 40 the previous June, to intro the Hall & Oates entry "Say, Say, Say It Isn't, Isn't, Isn't So, So, So".

Hall & Oates' follow-up single "Adult Education" received heavy airplay at both pop and black (urban contemporary) radio, and reached Number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1984. It was accompanied by a dark, New York City-oriented music video set in a cave. John Oates later told VH1 that the clip resembled the Survivor TV show on acid.

1984: Big Bam Boom[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Hall & Oates returned to the studio in 1984 after a rest period to begin work on the Big Bam Boom album. Unlike their previous album H2O, this album had even more of an electronic, urban feel to it, combining their song structure & vocalization with the latest technical advances in recording and playing. The album employed some of the most sophisticated equipment ever used in the recording industry at the time (most notably the Synclavier II, one of the first computerized synthesizer workstations). Noted remix and hip-hop icon Arthur Baker worked very closely with the duo as a consultant, and produced dance remixes of four of the album's singles.

The lead-off song "Dance on Your Knees" (written by Hall and co-written by Baker) is basically an homage to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's song "White Lines". Released in late 1984, the first single from the LP, Out of Touch, became the group's sixth Number 1 hit on December 8, 1984, receiving tremendous airplay. "Method of Modern Love", which debuted on the pop charts while "Out of Touch" was at Number 1, reached Number 5 in February 1985. "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" reached Number 18, and "Possession Obsession" (a song in which John Oates sings lead) reached Number 30 in 1985 as well. The group's "Live Thru '85" tour to promote the album began in November 1984, sponsored by Pontiac's latest sports car, the Fiero. In addition, Pontiac allowed Oates, a skilled amateur racer, to drive in Pontiac's factory IMSA GTU race car in Camel GT pro races. In April 1984, the Recording Industry Association of America named Hall & Oates the most successful duo in rock history.[4]

1985: Live at the Apollo[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Hall & Oates have almost always toured extensively for each album release. But in 1985, the duo took a break after the release of their Live at the Apollo album with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick—voices of The Temptations and two of their heroes. This was RCA's second attempt at a live Hall & Oates album, following the 1978 release LivetimeLive at the Apollo was released primarily to fulfill the duo's contract with RCA, and contained a top-20 hit with a medley of "The Way You Do the Things You Do" and "My Girl", both hits Ruffin and Kendrick had recorded with the Temptations in 1964.

After the live recording in spring 1985, the quartet of Hall, Oates, Ruffin and Kendrick performed in July at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, and again at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York later that year, complete with an Apollo Theater-style marquee descending on the stage during their performance. The Philly portion of the Live Aid concert used the Hall & Oates backing unit as the house band, consisting of Wolk, DeChant, Smith and Curry.

Just prior to Live Aid, on July 4, 1985, Hall & Oates performed at Liberty State Park in Jersey CityNew Jersey as part of the Liberty Concert where they played an outdoor benefit concert for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. It became a major music event, drawing an estimated crowd of over 60,000 people. Daryl Hall and John Oates also collaborated on the USA For Africa "We Are the World" project.

In 1986, Daryl Hall scored a Top 5 hit with "Dreamtime", from the album "Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine". That album also included the Top 40 hit "Foolish Pride" and the Top 100 hit "Somebody Like You," later performed by the duo live on their "Behind the Music" set. Although John Oates did not have a solo hit as a singer, he did earn a Top 10 credit as producer and co-songwriter (with Iva Davies) of the 1988 Icehouse hit "Electric Blue."

1988–1990: The Arista years[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Hall & Oates signed with Arista Records, their third record company, in 1987 shortly before the string of Top 10 hits ended, in Tommy Mottola's effort to keep them under contract when their RCA obligation ran out. Their first album for the label, Ooh Yeah!, included the hits "Everything Your Heart Desires" (Number 3 in May 1988—their last to make the Top 10), "Missed Opportunity", and "Downtown Life". Beginning with Ooh Yeah!, album and single releases were credited as Daryl Hall John Oates, with the '&' or 'and' missing between the duo's names. It was the last Hall & Oates album, other than greatest hits packages, to enjoy platinum success. They recorded one more album for Arista called Change of Season. The album's first single "So Close" (co-produced by Jon Bon Jovi) reached Number 11 and was Hall & Oates' last major hit. Another song from the album, "Don't Hold Back Your Love," (which became a hit for Australian Sherbet front man Daryl Braithwaite in his solo years) has become a Hall & Oates staple in concert. Change of Season was a more mainstream rock album than their previous work. Despite the fact that Ooh Yeah! andChange of Season reached platinum and gold status respectively, they were perceived as disappointments.

1991–2006[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The duo's occasional songwriting collaborator Janna Allen (sister of Sara) died of leukemia in 1993. Hall & Oates released the Marigold Sky album in 1997 (their first all-new studio album in seven years), which included an adult contemporary hit "Promise Ain't Enough." They also released a "VH1 Behind the Music" Greatest Hits package shortly after appearing on the show in 2002. At the same time, Daryl and Sara, professional/personal collaborators, broke off their romantic relationship after some three decades. Their friendship is still apparently strong; he has noted her help in his recovery from his 2005 attack of Lyme disease. Hall & Oates released the Do It for Love album in 2003, whose title track was a number-one Adult Contemporary hit. They have also released the Hall & Oates Live DVD from an A&E Live by Request special. This album was the first release (and first success) for their newest joint venture U-Watch Records. Hall has also released third and fourth solo albums titled Soul Alone (1993) and Can't Stop Dreaming (originally released in Japan in 1996), and a live two-disc solo album titled Live in Philadelphia (2004).

Hall & Oates covered Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" on the 1991 John/Taupin tribute album "Two Rooms", saying in the booklet, "We chose 'Philadelphia Freedom' because the music is so close to our hearts, and the lyrics represent the way we feel about Philadelphia." Oates released his own solo album in 2002 entitled Phunk Shui and a companion live concert DVD. Hall & Oates also released their first CD of (mostly) covers, Our Kind of Soul, in 2004. It includes some of their favorite R&B songs, such as "I'll Be Around" (their first Hot 100 entry in over a decade), "Love TKO", Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You", and more. Hall & Oates are still on the touring circuit, traveling nearly as much as they did in years past. In addition, a DVD of live performances of the songs from Our Kind of Soul was released in November 2005.

Hall & Oates released a Christmas album, Home For Christmas, on October 3, 2006, which contains two Christmas originals and covers. It includes a version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", which became their second number one Adult Contemporary hit.[14]

2007–present[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In September 2007, representatives for Montreal-based band Chromeo stated in a press release, "Indeed, Chromeo's idols Hall & Oates have asked them to collaborate with them on their upcoming record! Needless to say, the gentlemen are giddy like schoolchildren to be given this opportunity," as reported by Pitchfork Media.[citation needed] This collaboration with Chromeo was expected to be released in late 2008/early 2009, but as of 2011 has not surfaced. On May 20, 2008, Hall and Oates were honored as BMI Icons at the 56th annual BMI Pop Awards. As of 2008, their songwriting has collected 24 BMI Pop Awards and 14 BMI Million-Air awards.[15]

There were two notable nationally televised appearances for the duo in late 2008. On October 27, Oates sang the National Anthem before Game 5 of the 2008 World Series at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (Hall had taken sick, and the game was called on account of rain about 2/3 through, but resumed on October 29, and the Phillies won, claiming their first World Series Championship in 28 years).[16] (Though born in New York, John was raised in a suburb of Philadelphia and attended Temple University.[17]) Then, on December 11, both Hall and Oates appeared on the year's last episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They sang a satirical tribute to Alan Colmes, as he would leave Fox News a month later.[18][19] On March 24, 2009, Hall and Oates performed together on the American television show Dancing with the Stars.[20]

On October 13, 2009, a 4-CD box set was released, titled Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall and John Oates. This set represents the most comprehensive hits collection by the duo as it includes songs from various labels. Also included are three songs recorded by Hall and Oates with their earlier bands prior to their forming Hall & Oates as a duo. On October 23, 2009, in one of the last concerts at the Wachovia Spectrum, Hall & Oates and Philadelphia-area musicians The Hooters and Todd Rundgren headlined a concert titled "Last Call". In the spring of 2010, Hall & Oates embarked on their "Do What You Want, Be What You Are" tour in the United States. They appeared on the American Idol season finale on May 26, 2010 performing "You Make My Dreams". Also in 2010, Hall & Oates announced they would join a growing artists' boycott of the state of Arizona over the state's recently passed anti-illegal immigrant laws.[21]

On May 8, 2012, the two performed on the NBC reality singing competition The Voice.

Songwriting[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In an interview in a 1983 issue of Juke Magazine, John Oates was asked about whether conflicts arose. John replied that "we have our creative differences but we reconcile them". He said that if they both came up with a different way of doing something, they'd try it both ways and whatever sounded the best of the two they would use.[11]

Members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Backing musicians[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Current musicians
Past musicians
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