The secret to Hall and Oates’ success? Understanding their roles

Share this:

John Oates contributions to Hall and Oates are many, beginning with his key songwriting credits on a series of No. 1 hits including “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch.” Oftentimes, however, that goes overlooked — principally because he wasn’t the voice on those charttopping smashes.

Oates explains how they came to that decision, and why it made his bond with Daryl Hall that much stronger: “Well, what happened over the years is, Daryl’s voice became synonymous with the sound of Hall and Oates — and quite rightly so,” Oates tells the Skokie Review. “I have a really good problem: My problem is that my partner is one of the greatest singers in the world — and that’s the good part. It’s also the bad part for me, because I’m a pretty good singer, too.”

John Oates scored Top 40 hits taking the lead on songs like 1984’s “Possession Obsession,” 1980’s “How Does It Feel to Be Back,” and 1977’s “Back Together Again.” Still, there’s no question which voice the charts favored. Every Hall and Oates’ No. 1 song features Daryl Hall at the mic, a list that also includes “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List” and “Private Eyes.”

Recognizing that was key to their long-term success, Oates adds. “Daryl’s voice just connected on radio,” he says. “It connected in a way that made us popular — and I had to make some decisions with some of the songs. And my decisions were, ‘Should I have Daryl sing it and have the possibility of having a No. 1 record or should I sing it and there’s a good possibility it might not be a No. 1 record?’ When you have a partnership, these are the sort of compromises that you make or you don’t have a partnership. And that’s maybe why Daryl and I have existed over the years, because I was willing to make a lot of those hard decisions.”

Share this: