Turns out, their 1980s hey day wasn’t all they it was cracked up to be for Hall and Oates, a determinedly experimental band that ended up playing the role of goofy MTV stars. They scored five of their six No. 1 hits in the decade, but were so burned out by 1985 that they walked away after headlining in Live Aid.
“The ’80s weren’t as much fun as you might think,” John Oates tells the Guardian. “The demands were so great. When you’re in a rock band, travelling in a van, you may wish you were in a private plane, but you really don’t know what you’re missing. I enjoyed the ’70s a whole lot better. It was a totally freer time. Then we became pop superstars and we couldn’t go anywhere.”
The fact is, much of their music — in particular, Hall and Oates’ intriguing album cuts — “went over a lot of people’s heads,” Daryl Hall adds. So, why not play up the image of pompadoured playboy in a series of increasingly silly videoes? “To take it seriously would be a big mistake,” Hall admits. “The directors of MTV were all a bunch of fucking cokeheads.”
In time, the respect they’ve always deserved came their way — and Hall and Oates emerged stronger than ever. Now, they’re understood to be key influences on the likes of the the Killers to Arcade Fire, and they’ve been sampled by De La Soul, Kanye West and Wu-Tang Clan. Then the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came calling.
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