‘We’d turned into rock stars from outer space’: Hall and Oates transition away from folk wasn’t always easy

Hall and Oates’ transition from early folk performers into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-bound mixers of R&B, rock and pop wasn’t without its bumps in the road.

Over its first two albums in 1972-73, Whole Oats and Abandoned Luncheonette, the duo had set an early template as acoustic singer-songwriter types. But by 1974, Hall and Oates had set their sights on a broader, more complex sound — and a much more modern look.

Not everybody was ready.

“There was a folk club in Philadelphia that we used to play in our folkie days — before we did the War Babies album with Todd Rundgren and turned into rock stars from outer space,” Oates tells Train’s Pat Monahan, after a good laugh. “We showed up at this folk club, because we used to play it all the time, except we had satin jumpsuits and we were playing, like, heavy metal.”

Hall and Oates would continue experimenting throughout the balance of the 1970s, adding in elements and taking others away, before finally hitting just the right mixture with 1980′s Voices — which catapulted the duo to superstardom. Back at that folk club in Philly, however, their path to signature moments like Live Aid and the Rock Hall seemed less clear.

“In those days, we’d do two shows a night,” Oates says. “My parents came to the second show, and when they sat down at the little table, on the napkin was written: ‘These guys suck.’”

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  • Jeff Bearden

    Man, that live take of “She’s Gone”, that’s just beautiful.