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Hall & Oates - Profile of the Quintessential Pop Duo of the '80s

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Hall and Oates
Paul Natkin/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Early Years:

Daryl Hall and John Oates met and played music together briefly in the late '60s while attending Temple University in Philadelphia. However, they didn't begin a fruitful partnership until a couple of years later, after both had pursued music separately through session work and other bands. The duo signed with Atlantic Records and began to record and perform folk-inspired music. During this period they charted once with the underrated "She's Gone" as their sound began to evolve.

Toward Stardom:

After shifting over to RCA Records, Hall & Oates began to explore some disparate styles, including rock, soft rock and pop. The hit "Sara Smile" served as a bridge between the duo's searching, exploratory period and its eventual chart-topping sound. In 1977, "Rich Girl" revealed Hall's knack for keyboard riffs, a talent he would soon perfect when the pair exploded after the new decade arrived.

Hall & Oates - The Hit Machine:

By 1980 and the release of Voices, their biggest album to date, Hall & Oates had expertly tapped into the new era of music. Embracing electronic sounds and employing funk and disco strands in its music, the duo had embarked upon a lengthy songwriting peak. Over the next two years Top Ten hits "Kiss on My List," "You Make My Dreams," "Private Eyes," and "Maneater" were all over the airwaves. Despite an inability to garner positive reviews, the Hall & Oates train was rolling just fine.

Falling Out of Touch:

The '80s music landscape was nothing if not fickle, and the treachery of the business began to take its toll on Hall & Oates in the mid-'80s even as they continued to make hit records. The quality of their songs suffered as well, and with their best work behind them the image-conscious, MTV age left the duo behind. Still the pair continued to record and tour together intermittently into the '90s and perseveres today.

More Than Just Nostalgia:

Even though Hall & Oates seemed even in their heyday to be destined for eventual time-capsule status, the quality of their songwriting has stood the test of time. And while the opening keyboard chords of "Kiss on My List" certainly have the ability to bring up wistful memories of a lost age, the tune itself displays an impressive mastery of melody, harmony and lyrical gifts. And the songs will always be the duo's greatest legacy.

Things to Know About Hall & Oates:

  • In 1984, Hall & Oates surpassed the Everly Brothers as the most successful duo in rock history, having earned 19 gold and platinum awards.
  • The duo amassed 14 Top Ten singles within a 12-year period at its peak, including five Number One hits.

Essential '80s Albums:

  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. 80s Music
  4. Artists/Bands
  5. Artists F-J
  6. Hall and Oates
  7. Hall & Oates - Profile of Hall & Oates, '80s Pop Legends

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