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Addresses: Record company-- Arista Records, 6 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
Hailed as "exponents of blue-eyed soul" by critic Ron Givens in Stereo Review, Daryl Hall and John Oates have been performing as a duo since the late 1960s, but first gained widespread attention with their 1975 RCA debut album. The record, Daryl Hall and John Oates, included the hit single "Sara, Smile," which proved so popular that it renewed interest in their previous efforts, especially the 1973 Atlantic album, Abandoned Luncheonette. Many albums and hits have followed; among the latter are "Rich Girl," "Private Eyes," and "Say It Isn't So."
Both halves of the duo loved music from their early years. Hall, born in or near Philadelphia on October 11, 1948, was the son of two classically trained musicians. Though they gave him voice and piano lessons in the hope that he too would follow the classical path, Hall was enchanted by the sounds of rock and roll. By the time Hall was in junior high, he was catching rides to Philadelphia to become involved in the city's vibrant rhythm and blues scene. He hung out on corners with black vocal groups who were impressed enough by his devotion to let him sing with them. Meanwhile, unwilling to disappoint his parents, he continued his education in classical music. Hall began to experience success in both genres simultaneously: He would sing with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the afternoon and at night sing backup for performers like Motown great Smokey Robinson in small city clubs.
John Oates, on the other hand, was born in New York City on April 7, 1949, to parents who liked rock and roll and encouraged his interest in it. His mother even took him to concerts by pioneer rock artists like Bill Haley and the Comets. Oates started guitar lessons when he was eight years old and eventually perfected a routine in which he imitated the style of Elvis Presley. Like Hall, after Oates's family moved to the Philadelphia area, he often went to the city as a teenager to see soul acts like Sam and Dave or Gary U.S. Bonds. Oates also spent a lot of time dancing at local record hops, in addition to practicing with various bands he formed with his friends. He too eventually became a studio backup singer and musician.
Hall and Oates met in 1967, around the time both attended Temple University. They quickly became friends because of their shared interest in soul and rhythm and blues. Oates also began playing occasional sessions with Hall's rock band, Gulliver. By 1969 they had left Gulliver to perform as a pair. At that time both Hall and Oates were also interested in folk music; their first album on Atlantic, Whole Oates, released in 1972, had a predominantly folk sound. Though this effort was generally ignored by critics and fans alike, the two musicians were undaunted. Their next release, Abandoned Luncheonette, had more of the "blue-eyed soul" feel that would ultimately became their trademark; it fared better, garnering good reviews and scoring a minor hit with "She's Gone."
Ever experimental, Hall & Oates's third release, War Babies, had a harsher, more metallic rock tone, which largely alienated their burgeoning audience. Recalling concert performances of the same period, Hall told Michael Ryan in People: "We played a few gigs where people actually threw things at us." The duo returned to a mellow, soul sound for their RCA debut, Daryl Hall and John Oates. The album's single, "Sara, Smile," raced up the charts in Europe as well as the United States and Hall & Oates launched a successful world tour. Meanwhile, both critics and fans harkened back to Abandoned Luncheonette to get more of the pair's talent, and "She's Gone" belatedly became a much bigger hit than it had been originally. Hall & Oates kept their new found popularity going with the 1976 release of Bigger Than Both of Us, scoring another smash with the catchy single, "Rich Girl."
Their next three albums, however, did not go over as well. One, Along the Red Ledge, was more rock-oriented than their previous successes; another, X-Static, was influenced by disco. But with the 1980 release of Voices, Hall & Oates were back on track, collecting a series of platinum albums. Voices included a hit remake of the Righteous Brothers classic "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," along with the chart-climbing "Kiss on My List." The following year's Private Eyes fared just as well, scoring hits with the upbeat title cut and "I Can't Go For That." Next came H20, which featured "Did It in a Minute," "Maneater," the slow ballad "One on One," and "Family Man." Not content when they released a greatest hits collection, Rock 'n' Soul Part One, to rest upon their laurels, Hall & Oates included new hits on the album as well: "Say It Isn't So," and "Adult Education."
Despite their success, after 1984's Big Bam Boom, which yielded the hits "Out of Touch" and "Method of Modern Love," and the popular live album Live at the Apollo, the long-time team split to pursue individual projects. Oates helped produce albums for other musical groups, while Hall recorded his second solo effort, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine. Hearts, like Hall's previous solo album, Sacred Songs, drew respectful remarks from critics, but Hall & Oates fans were disappointed; neither disc sold well.
Nonetheless, as Hall predicted in a 1986 interview with Steve Dougherty in People, the duo did re-team to record again. In 1988 they released Ooh Yeah! on Arista and had the satisfaction of watching two singles, "Everything Your Heart Desires" and "Missed Opportunity," become popular with Top Forty audiences. Not only fans, but critics too welcomed Hall & Oates's reunion effort; Hank Bordowitz in High Fidelity, for instance, proclaimed gleefully that "Ooh Yeah! attacks the brain and breeds there, causing you to hum incessantly." Hall & Oates's follow-up album, 1990's Change of Season also produced a hit with "So Close."
by Elizabeth Wenning
Hall & Oates's Career
- Selective Works
- Whole Oates, Atlantic, 1972.
- Abandoned Luncheonette (includes "She's Gone"), Atlantic, 1973.
- War Babies, Atlantic, 1974.
- Daryl Hall and John Oates (includes "Sara, Smile"), RCA, 1975.
- Bigger Than Both of Us (includes "Rich Girl"), RCA, 1976.
- Beauty on a Back Street, RCA, 1977.
- Livetime, RCA, 1978.
- Along the Red Ledge (includes "It's a Laugh" and "I Don't Want to Lose You"), RCA, 1978.
- X-Static, RCA, 1979.
- Voices (includes "How Does It Feel to Be Back," "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "You Make My Dreams Come True," and "Kiss on My List"), RCA, 1980.
- Private Eyes (includes "Private Eyes" and "I Can't Go for That"), RCA, 1981.
- H2O (includes "Did It in a Minute," "Maneater," "One on One," and "Family Man"), RCA, 1982.
- Rock 'n' Soul Part One (includes "Say It Isn't So" and "Adult Education"), RCA, 1983.
- Big Bam Boom (includes "Out of Touch" and "Method of Modern Love"), RCA, 1984.
- Live at the Apollo, RCA, 1985.
- Ooh Yeah! (includes "Everything Your Heart Desires," "Missed Opportunity," "Downtown Life," "I'm in Pieces," "Talking All Night," "Rockability," "Rocket to God," "Soul Love," and "Realove: Keep on Pushin' Love"), Arista, 1988.
- Change of Season (includes "So Close"), Arista, 1990.
- Solo LPs by Daryl Hall
- Sacred Songs, RCA, 1980.
- Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine (includes "Dreamtime"), RCA, 1986.
January 18, 2005: The Hall and Oates album, Our Kind of Soul, was released with a bonus track. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_5/index.jsp, January 19, 2005.
- High Fidelity, July 1988; November 1988.
- Mademoiselle, September 1981.
- Newsweek, February 20, 1984.
- People, May 25, 1981; April 15, 1985; December 15, 1986.
- Rolling Stone, March 22, 1979; January 17, 1985; May 5, 1988.
- Stereo Review, April 1978; September 1988.
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