Meetings that made entertainment history… When Hall met Oates

The pop duo, Hall and Oates, have enjoyed a hugely successful career, spanning around 50 years to date.

They’ve sold 40 million records so far and have had six number one hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2014, they became inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Two years later, on 2nd September 2016, they were given their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Billboard magazine put them at number 15 on their list of the 100 best artists of all time and the number one duo.

How did it all begin?

When Hall met Oates, they were both students at Temple University in Philadelphia in the late 1960s. Daryl Hall was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, in October 1946. His father was a singer and his mother was a vocal coach, so it was no surprise that he grew up with a keen interest in music.

He majored in music at Temple University and worked as a session musician and singer at the same time. At the age of 17, he had formed a doo-wop street band, The Temptones. In 1967, he was due to play a gig with his band at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia, when events took an unexpected turn.

John Oates, born in 1948 in New York City, didn’t come from a musical family, but was a keen singer, songwriter and guitarist by the time he was a teenager. He had formed a band called The Masters, who were also on the bill at the Adelphi Ballroom that night.

Although Hall and Oates went to the same university, they weren’t friends at this point. Oates was two years older and they hadn’t moved in the same circles.

Chance meeting

Just before Hall’s band was due to go on stage, a fight broke out in the crowd. He remembered it as being a brawl between two rival high school fraternities. It quickly turned nasty, as the rival gangs pulled out knives and chains.

The show was over right away and the bands and audience fled the venue. The ballroom was on the upper floor and Hall recalled going in the lift to try and escape. He said he ran and jumped in, finding Oates in there too. They recognised each other from Temple University and said “hi”. A little small-talk followed.

After their initial meeting in the lift, they spoke to each other regularly at university. It was the time of the Vietnam War and two of Oates’ band mates in The Masters were drafted, spelling the end of the group. He then joined Hall’s band, The Temptones, as a guitar player.

Hall and Oates became friends and started hanging out together, eventually becoming room-mates. Oates described it as living a “downtown Philadelphia life in that hippy time” of the late 1960s.

After graduating in 1970, he went travelling around Europe with his guitar. Meanwhile, Hall got married and their fledgling musical partnership was temporarily suspended.

When Oates returned from his travels, he found his flat (which he had sublet in his absence) was locked up and all his belongings gone! So Hall and his wife let him lodge with them.

They formed a close bond and it was at this point that Hall and Oates started writing songs together and taking their musical career more seriously. They decided it was better to remain a duo, without having to deal with other band members, because they knew they could rely on each other.

Hit records

When they started out, they didn’t have a masterplan. They decided to start writing and to see where their career took them. They liked the same kind of music, but Oates described Hall as having his “finger very much on the pulse”.

They made an ideal partnership, because Oates was the laid back one, while Hall was forward thinking and a “dedicated lifelong musician”, so they kind of bounced off each other. This is probably why their musical partnership has been so enduring.

They released their debut album, Whole Oats, in 1972. It wasn’t a commercial success, but their second, Abandoned Luncheonette, was massive, achieving platinum status in the United States in 1973. This was the start of their hugely successful career.

Since their formation, they have released 63 singles and 11 live, 18 studio and 27 compilation albums‎. Their music has been a unique blend of pop, rock, folk and soul.

Their best-known singles include their first US number one, Rich Girl, in 1977, followed by a succession of chart-toppers such as Kiss on My List, Private Eyes and I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) in 1981, Maneater in 1982 and Out of Touch in 1984.

Their top-selling albums include Private Eyes in 1981, H20 in 1982, Big Bam Boom in 1984 and Live at the Apollo in 1985. Their H20 album represented a change of direction and was more synth-based – it was a particularly polished effort. Oates said they recorded 20 initial songs, but nine weren’t used.

Later career

Today, the Hall and Oates friendship and musical partnership remains just as strong. They completed a major tour in 2017, playing a 29-date arena tour across the United States. In October 2017, they were the headline act at the Blues Fest at the 02 Arena in London.

Their most recent album was the Timeless Classics compilation in 2017, which made the top 20 in the UK. Their most recent single, Philly Forget Me Not, was released in 2018 and reached number 12 in the United States’ Adult Contemporary chart.

When asked by an interviewer how they maintained such a long and successful partnership, Oates admitted they had their “creative differences”, but always reconciled them. If they came up with different ways of doing something, they would try both ways and use which ever turned out the best.

They are currently on a world tour, which began in Birmingham in April 2019 – scheduled to continue until Saturday 28th September, when they play the final date at the Thackerville Winstar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma.

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