When it comes to the brilliant music of Philly’s own Hall & Oates, we can all can go for that…
For nearly four decades, Daryl Hall and John Oates‘ smooth, sultry crafting on Philly soul music has brought them to the greatest heights of commercial success. Included on their list of crowning music achievements are a number of Grammy awards, six number one singles, six platinum albums and perhaps their greatest accomplishment of all–each and every one of their classic jingles have seemingly been played in every dentist office and at every supermarket around the music globe.
American musicians Darryl Hall (left) and John Oates perform as Hall &Oates at the Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut November 1, 1984
Mr. Hall began in his music journey while he was a student at Temple University. In 1966, he recorded a single with Kenny Gamble and the Romeos;the merry band of crooners featured Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell, who would all become true pioneers of Philly soul. During this coveted time, Hall frequently appeared on sessions for Gamble and Huff where he soon met John Oates, a fellow Temple University student. Headlining his own soul band at the time, the soon-to-be famous pair realized they had similar music attractions and began performing together in a variety of local R&B and doo wop groups. However, by ’68, the newfound two-some had to part ways due to the fact that Oates transferred schools and Hall formed a Gulliver, a smooth rock band who released one album on Elektra in the late ’60s before calling it quits.
After Gulliver’s unfortunate ending, Hall went back to putting his focus to making a name for himself again, taking the stage as a backup vocalist for early ’70s doo-wop acts the Stylistics and the Delfonics, just to name a few. But it was when Oates returned to Philadelphia in 1968 that he and Hall got the writing bug again, linking up to create folk-laced tracks and hitting the local stages together. Eventually they came to the attention of Tommy Mottola (don’t all the good ones?), who oh, so quickly became their manager, landing the about-to-break music act an exclusive recording contract with Atlantic Records.
Hall & Oates first studio offerings–’72’s Whole Oates, ’73’s Abandoned Luncheonette & 74’s War Babies–established them on the music scene while at the same time they worked with famed producers like Arif Mardin and Todd Rundgren to help them play away from their folk-tinged sound and develop a more light oriented rock flow. At the top of 1974, H&O relocated from Philly to NYC, and it was during this time that they achieved moderate chart success with the number 60 charting “She’s Gone” in the spring of 1974. But that all soon changed once they said goodbye to Mottola and moved over to RCA and the Hall & Oates chart magic truly began.
While at their new music home, the duo finally hit the jackpot in crafting their successful mixture of soul, pop, and rock, scoring a Top Ten single with “Sara Smile.” The success of “Sara Smile” led to a re-release of “She’s Gone,” which bulldozed its way into the Top Ten as well, which would only catapult their ’76 set, which housed one of their trademark tunes, the ’70s rock classic, “Rich Girl.”
While they had a Sony Walkman full of single releases in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the struggle was still a little bit real for them to claim true mainstream success. But being the true professionals they are, Daryl & John continued to create music, going on to become more adventurous, incorporating more rock elements into their Philly soul music vibes. Their hard work officially paid off in late 1980 when they released the self-produced Voices, an album that marked the true kick-start to Hall & Oates’ great commercial success.
Their first release from Voices, a hit cover of the Righteous Brothers‘ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” was followed with the timeless, “Kiss on My Lips,”which was eclipsed by even bigger hit single, “You Make My Dreams.” They soon served us with the Private Eyes record in the summer of 1981 which boasted two number one hits-the slinky title track and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” as well as Top Ten smash, “Did It in a Minute.” It should also be musically noted that “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” also spent a week at the top of the R&B charts a certainly rare accomplishment for a white act.
Follow up record H20 soon hit in ’82 and it proved to be more successful than their two previous albums, selling over two million copies and housing their biggest hit single, “Maneater,” as well as the Top Ten hits “One on One” and “Family Man.” They would soon release a greatest-hits compilation, Rock ‘N Soul, Pt. 1, that featured two new Top Ten hits — “Say It Isn’t So” and “Adult Education.” But their biggest accomplishment in the beloved ’80s came in the April of 1984 when the Recording Industry Association of America announced that Hall & Oates had surpassed the Everly Brothers as the most successful duo in rock history, earning a total of 19 gold and platinum awards.
Another smash album, Big Bam Boom, followed in October that year which expanded their number of gold and platinum awards, selling over two million copies and launching four Top 40 singles, including another one of their Billboard #1 smashes, the bedroom-ready, “Out of Touch.”
Following their contract-fulfilling Live at the Apollo set with David Ruffin & Eddie Kendrick, Hall & Oates went on hiatus, which as we all know, is certainly never too kind to a successful group. Hall went on to achieve a lukewarm reception to his solo alum, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, and the duo soon linked up again to release 1988’s Ooh Yeah!, which supplied a hit with lead single, but none of the album’s other singles went near the top 20, all further indicating era of Hall & Oates chart destruction was starting to slow down a bit. But it was one certainly one hell of a great music time while it lasted.
Through the ’90s and early-’00s, Hall & Oates continued to do their music thing, releasing a handful of live albums, greatest hits compilations and a rousing comeback on appearance on American idol a few years back. They’ve also rocked our Philly music worlds as headliners for Philly’s annual 4th of July festivities on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
By now, there’s absolutely no need to argue that Hall & Oates have certainly earned their place in the music industry all the while reaching into the depths of Philly soul music and creating it into a music world that has yet to be duplicated today…because you truly can’t duplicate the magic that was–and still most certainly is–Philly’s own Hall & Oates.