Making music means more than milestones to Hall and Oates
By JEFF ELBEL For Sun-Times Media June 18, 2014 2:56PM
Daryl Hall and John Oates | PHOTO BY MICK ROCK
Daryl Hall and
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Ravinia Festival,
418 Sheridan, Highland Park
Info: (847) 266-5000; ravinia.org
Updated: June 18, 2014 9:17PM
With a string of chart-topping hits including “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List” and “Maneater,” the potent musical partnership of Daryl Hall and John Oates has continued into its fifth decade. The duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year after 17 years of eligibility. Although thankful, Hall and Oates themselves weren’t as impressed.
“I love the fallout from it, but honestly, my life would not have changed had it not happened,” says Oates. “I’m nostalgic for the future, not the past.”
Hall and Oates perform at Ravinia on Sunday.
2014 marks major anniversaries in the duo’s catalog. The multi-platinum selling “Big Bam Boom” album that yielded Hall and Oates’ final Billboard Hot 100 number one single “Out of Touch” turns 30. The pair’s “War Babies” album turns 40. Oates doesn’t spend time counting musical birthdays, though. “Wow, that’s amazing,” he says. “Had you not mentioned it, I would never have known.”
Even if the twosome were inclined to celebrate milestones, they’re unlikely to adopt the trend of performing a classic album in full. “We have a very good problem with our live show,” says Oates. “We have a lot of hits to play. People come to hear those famous singles and number one records. My personal opinion is that we have a responsibility to play the songs that people want to hear.”
At the same time, Hall and Oates don’t want to be judged solely by their biggest hits. “We also have a deep-track rotation that we change every night,” says Oates. “The old-school fans think it’s great. Our younger-generation fans will come up to me after the show and say, ‘I love your new song!’ And I’m like, ‘Which one?’ They go, ‘Alone Too Long.’ I’ll laugh and say, ‘Yeah, that’s really new. We did that in ‘74.’”
The band’s sound is built upon rock, folk, and soul. Hall and Oates championed rhythm and blues at a time when the style was marginalized on radio. The band’s 1985 album “Live at the Apollo” re-introduced the New Wave generation to Motown heavyweights The Temptations. Oates describes a similar revival of interest in Hall and Oates through younger acts.
“I think the tables have turned,” he says. “We’ve now become the elder statesmen. We’re The Temptations to the younger generation of artists and bands who are now turning their fan bases on to what we’ve done.”
Hall and Oates are often cited as the most successful duo of the rock era, drawing comparisons to Oates’ own icons such as The Everly Brothers or Simon and Garfunkel. “If you really look at popular music, most of the powerful combinations have been duos,” says Oates. “Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, George and Ira Gershwin — the list goes on. The songwriting team is a classic configuration. There’s just something about the dynamic of two people working together.”
In March, Oates released his fifth album, “Good Road to Follow.” Rather than going strictly solo, he collaborated with other artists. It was a natural choice. “Perhaps being so used to collaboration with Daryl over the years, it has become a way of life for me,” says Oates. “I love the interaction and the chemistry. I love what happens when people share ideas.