Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
HALL and OATES
(b Daryl Hohl, 11 Oct. '49, Pottsdown PA; John Oates, b 7 April '49, NYC) US AOR vocal duo. Pianist Hall was Philadelphia session musician; guitarist Oates a journalism student when they met at Battle of the Bands '67 between Temptones and Masters. Group Gulliver with Hall, Tim Moore (guitar, later solo artist), Jim Helmer (drums), Tom Sellers (keyboards, bass) made eponymous LP for Elektra '69 before Oates joined; they signed as duo to Atlantic for Whole Oates '72, ill-conceived folkish LP largely forgotten. Prod. Arif Mardin then let Oates have his head: years of sessions in black-dominated scene had left him with love of soul music; Abandoned Luncheonette '73 was indistinguishable from the real thing: black group Tavares covered 'She's Gone'; 'When The Morning Comes' also outstanding. War Babies '74 was sci-fi concept LP using Utopia as backing group; lyrical concerns of urban life and deprivation sat uneasily with overblown prod. by Todd Rundgren and live act with jazz-rock backup (bassist Rick Laird, ex-Mahavishnu) was a disaster. Switch to RCA, link with prod. Chris Bond saw them combine soul vocal blend (regarded as the new Righteous Bros by some) with pop sensibility, and hits came at last: seven top 40 entries '76--9 with light, glossy pop/soul incl. delayed no. 7 with reissued 'She's Gone'; also 'Sara Smile' (no. 4), 'Rich Girl' (subject Hall's girl friend/writing partner). Yet more hiccups were unsuccessful Beauty In A Back Street and Along The Ledge '77--8, leading to break with Bond; Hall made solo Sacred Songs with King Crimson's Robert Fripp; RCA said it was too left field but released it '80; same year duo decided to prod. themselves; Voices '80 was not stunning but Private Eyes '81 found a new consistency, helped by regular band: in Bond era they used session players in the studio and inferior people on tour; now they had Tom 'T-Bone' Wolk on bass, Charlie DeChant on sax and keyboards, drummer Mickey Curry and G. E. Smith (ex-Scratch Band) on guitar. The most successful US pop singles act of early '80s: 14 top 40 hits by late '84, incl. five at no. 1: 'Kiss On My List', 'Private Eyes', 'I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)', all '81; 'Maneater' '82, 'Out Of Touch' '84; singles collection Rock'n'Soul Part 1 recommended. They crossed over frequently to the black chart and enlarged credibility with Live At The Apollo '85, using ex-Temptations David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks on backing vocals, incl. Temptations medley in act. Meanwhile, Paul Young had UK no. 4/USA no. 1 with Hall's 'Every Time You Go Away' (from Voices), raising credibility still further (but not consistent themselves in UK, where only 'I Can't Go For That' and 'Maneater' reached top ten). Hall moonlighted with Elvis Costello ('The Only Flame In Town', minor USA/UK hit), prod. Diana Ross; their Bigbamboom '85 was a hit; following tour of that name they announced they would split. Hall solo Three Hearts In The Happy Ending Machine '86 co-prod. by Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, incl. UK hit 'Dreamtime'. They re-formed for Ooh Yeah! '88, Change Of Season '90 on Arista; Marigold Sky '97.