Live Aid, held on July 13, 1985, provided Hall and Oates with the biggest stage yet in reintroducing their childhood heroes the Temptations to a new generation. Some 100,000 fans were on hand at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, while nearly 2 billion watched via an international broadcast.
Hall and Oates even did the old Temps moves on stage.
Of course, they’d already released, just the month before in May, a concert set called Live at the Apollo, which also featured David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks — recorded at the grand-reopening of the iconic venue. The project had helped heal some old wounds between the two Motown legends, after a lengthy period in which they hadn’t worked together.
That Hall and Oates could have been the nexus for all of this still amazes John Oates, he says in an exclusive Something Else! Sitdown. “It was very important for Daryl and I to honor those guys,” he says, “to bring those guys back — because they were so important to us.”
Fast forward some three decades, and Oates says similar connections back to seminal influences are finally starting to come easier again.
“A lot of contemporary musicians, going into the early 2000s, kind of eschewed being associated with older artists,” he tells us. “They thought it didn’t make them look hip. But these days, that’s changing. I’ve played with moe, and with Umphrey’s Magee and the Avett Brothers, too. The fact that those guys would put me on a show, it’s really interesting. It’s the way I thought when I was young.”
Hall, Oates, Ruffin and Kendricks later appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards, further rejuvenating interest in the Temptations. They were subsequently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a timely introduction by Hall and Oates. Ruffin and Kendricks then rejoined with fellow Temptations alum Dennis Edwards for a tour, as well.
All of that traced back to a call from Hall and Oates to meet them at the Apollo, one which brought the duo’s own careers full circle even as it gave the Temptations a new platform.
“I was honored to have the Temptations playing with me,” Oates adds. “We really did come full circle. It’s cool and healthy for music in general, that bands are willing to make that kind of commitment again.”