John Oates, 65, guitarist in Hall & Oates:
We were teenagers in different bands waiting backstage to perform at a record hop – a teenage dance put on by disc jockeys. It was held in a bad neighbourhood in Philadelphia and a gang fight broke out in the crowd. Daryl and I both jumped into a freight elevator and went downstairs to leave and that’s the first time we met. Neither of us performed that night.
Years later I moved in with Daryl. I had sublet my apartment to his sister and her boyfriend while I busked around Europe for four months. They didn’t pay the rent and when I returned the apartment was padlocked and all my stuff was gone. I had nowhere to go. Daryl took pity on me and invited me to move in with him.
The early 70s was an amazing time to be in Philadelphia. We were living in this hippy ghetto with a lot of crazy freaks and cool people. All we did was walk around the city and play music in art galleries and coffee shops. Little by little we began to gel and write songs.
We first played London in 1975. I was 24. We didn’t know it, but we had been discovered by the hip London underground. We’d just flown in and I wasn’t used to the jetlag – in between songs I was turning my back to the audience and slapping myself in the face. We have the audio from that night – when I hear the band playing with that youthful energy I think: “Wow! Who are these kids with this fire?”
Daryl and I are more like brothers than actual friends. We’re very different as people, but we have this incredibly strong musical bond. He is creatively unsatisfied and that drives him forward. He’s very smart, and, in my opinion, has one of the greatest popular voices of all time.
Daryl Hall, 67, lead vocalist:
People think John and I live in the same house and spend all our time together. It couldn’t be further from the truth. When we are off stage he does what he does and I do it my way. We do spend a lot of time on planes together, though. We have a very familial relationship. We are more like brothers.
As Hall & Oates, we did a lot of things for the first time together and that was fun, like the first time we toured outside of Philadelphia.
We met 50 years ago promoting our own records – my band was called the Temptones and John was in the Masters. We were at Temple University, became friends and shared apartments, but it wasn’t until later that we started making music together.
Usually when we write together John comes to me with an idea and wants me to work on it. For example, with “She’s Gone”, he wrote the chorus and I wrote the verses. If I have an idea, I’ll work on it myself. We wrote more music together when we were young. Now we generally work separately.
The region that we both come from is what makes our music unique. John brought a lot of southern influences from his connections to country and bluegrass music. I have a background in gospel, church music and R&B. The combination of all of this is what makes our music what it is.
We get along just fine. We weren’t – and aren’t – very much alike: we have different interests. But the differences aren’t important, what’s important is what we share, – and that’s music.