Hall and Oates’ Big Bam Boom was sparked by moment of experimentation: ‘I was just fooling around with it’

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The lead single from Hall and Oates’ Big Bam Boom, released on October 12, 1984, started as a moment of fun experimentation with a new synthesizer. “Out of Touch” ended up atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks later in 1984, and (amazingly) appeared on four other charts, as well.

Hall and Oates also shot to No. 1 on the dance charts, No. 8 on the adult contemporary charts, No. 24 on the R&B charts and No. 48 in the UK — helping Big Bam Boom sell more than three million copies.

Thank goodness John Oates was in touch with the latest technology, right?

“I had purchased a synthesizer,” Oates told the Eighties Experience, “and I’m not much of a keyboard player. But this synthesizer had a feature called an arpeggiator — which automatically played notes for you. I was just fooling around with it, trying to figure out how to use the machine. I hit this button, and it made a certain sound, and I liked the sound of it.”

As anyone who listened to the radio (or watched MTV) in the mid 1980s can tell you, something magic had happened. Still, there was a lot of work to do before Hall and Oates could notch their 14th consecutive Top 40 smash in just four short years.

“I started fooling around with the melody, and I came up with a theme for the chorus — using the synthesizer as a starting point,” Oates says. “Then, I put vocals on it, and guitars and all of that stuff. Then I played it for [Hall and Oates] producer Arthur Baker, the guy we were working with at the time, and he thought it was a hit. So Daryl [Hall] and I got together, and we did the verses together.”

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