In its time, an invite to appear on Soul Train was the pinnacle for any group boasting an R&B audience — and Hall and Oates was no different. Riding a wave of attention surrounding “I Can’t Go For That,” which topped both the pop and R&B charts, the duo finally got the coveted nod from the late Don Cornelius.
That November 20, 1982 appearance was, in many ways, as important as any they ever made. It would place Hall and Oates among a rare group of white artists to appear on the show, along with the likes of David Bowie and Elton John — and solidify their status in both musical worlds. Cornelius memorably welcomed H&O as “two geniune superstars aboard the Soul Train, and two men who are among the few in history to master the art of crossing music over in the other direction.” The duo also rocked “Maneater,” then on its way to becoming yet another two-chart smash.
“I thought Soul Train was an amazing show that perfectly captured the R&B music of that era,” Oates says, in a new talk with SoulTrain.com. “Anybody who was anybody in R&B was on that show.”
The crowd was suitably pleased too, though nobody was going to upstage that program’s eternally hip host. “I always loved Don Cornelius,” Oates adds. “Don had to be one of the coolest dudes in the whole universe. He had this aura about him. He was a smart business man, respectful to the musicians — but at the same time, there was no doubt it was his show. I really respected that about him.”