‘I’ve discovered things’: John Oates on the benefits of a lengthy career with Hall and Oates

Over the course of a record-smashing, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career with Hall and Oates that began in the early 1970s, many things changed — and, John Oates says, that’s a good thing. Fashion, technology, hair styles, media, it’s all different. But then again, so is his voice. And that, Oates says, led him to exciting new career places.

After all, throughout much of the 1980s, he was known as the pitch-perfect backup singer for Daryl Hall — even though Oates co-wrote such No. 1 smashes as “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch” while singing several other charting songs. Fast forward a few decades, and Oates’ vocal instrument has new oaken shades. It’s paved the way to genres that fans of his work in Hall and Oates might never have predicted.

“The best thing that happened to my voice is the fact that it wore out,” Oates tells The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’ve discovered things in my singing that have opened up a whole new world for me, finding ways to sing that are comfortable for me.”

More recent solo ventures have found him delving into roots music — all while continuing to dabble in the rock-and-soul combination that sparked Hall and Oates to platinum success. His multi-EP Good Road to Follow project covered all those bases. Meanwhile, the H&O tours, even before their induction this month into the rock hall, continue to sell out.

“Now, my voice has character,” he adds. “I’m not hoping for pristine, absolutely pitch-perfect, ultra-tuned, perfectly crafted vocal performances. It’s something I’ve learned from the Americana and blues and bluegrass guys I’ve worked with.”

Oates memorably shared vocal duties on “She’s Gone” and on Hall and Oates’ version of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” He also wrote and/or sang on “Back Together Again” (No. 28, 1977), “How Does It Feel To Be Back” (No. 30, 1980), and “Possession Obsession” (No. 30, 1985), among many others.

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