‘I was just fooling around with it’: New keyboard led to Hall and Oates’ most recent No. 1 hit

Hall and Oates’ most recent No. 1 single started as an experiment with a new synthesizer. It ended up atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in December 1984, and — amazingly — appeared on four other charts, as well.

“Out of Touch,” the lead track from Big Bam Boom, also shot to No. 1 on the dance charts, No. 8 on the adult contemporary charts, No. 24 on the R&B charts and No. 48 in the UK — helping Hall and Oates’ 1984 studio effort sell more than three million copies.

Thank goodness John Oates was in touch with the latest technology, right?

“I had purchased a synthesizer,” Oates tells The Eighties Experience, “and I’m not much of a keyboard player. But this synthesizer had a feature called an arpeggiator — which automatically played notes for you. I was just fooling around with it, trying to figure out how to use the machine. I hit this button, and it made a certain sound, and I liked the sound of it.”

Still, there was a lot of work to do before Hall and Oates could notch their 14th consecutive Top 40 smash in just four short years.

“I started fooling around with the melody, and I came up with a theme for the chorus — using the synthesizer as a starting point,” Oates says. “Then, I put vocals on it, and guitars and all of that stuff. Then I played it for our producer Arthur Baker, the guy we were working with at the time, and he thought it was a hit. So Daryl and I got together, and we did the verses together.”

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  • Rudy

    What synth do you suspect he was fooling with?

  • Steve Conslaw

    In another interview, John Oates said the synth he was fooling around with was a Roland JX8P.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keykrazy keykrazy


    That can’t be right; i’ve got a JX-8P sitting here to the left of me and it has no arpeggiator. Perhaps it was a Roland JX-3P, which does have an arpeggiator/128-step sequencer on it.

    And FWiW i’m pretty sure i spotted a Prophet V in the “No Can Do” video on another post here. (Though i’m at work right now and wasn’t paying all that much attention to be honest.. ;-)