Philadelphia soulboys Daryl Hall (born Daryl Franklin Hohl) and John William Oates first met at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia in 1967. At the time they were each heading their own band. They began spending time together and eventually shared a number of apartments in the city.
It took them another two years to form a musical duo, and three years after that, they signed to Atlantic Records and released their debut album.
Hall and Oates left Atlantic Records after the release of War Babies to join RCA Records. Their first album for the new label, Daryl Hall & John Oates (often referred to by their fans as the silver album because of the silver foil material on the original album cover), was their first notable success and contained the ballad Sara Smile (1976) which became their first Top 10 hit.
The duo hit pay dirt in America with their 1977 #1 single Rich Girl – which David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz would later claim as the motivation behind his killing spree!
Although they had several minor hits between 1977 and 1980, the albums Hall & Oates released at the end of the decade were not as successful as their mid-’70s records.
Their self-produced Voices album (1980) marked the beginning of their greatest commercial and artistic success with Kiss on My List becoming their second #1 single. The follow-up, You Make My Dreams hit #5.
They quickly released the album Private Eyes in the summer of 1981. The album featured two #1 hits, the title track and (the nastily overproduced) I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), as well as the Top Ten hit, Did It in a Minute.
H20 followed in 1982 and proved more successful than their two previous albums, selling over two million copies and launching their biggest hit single, Maneater, as well as the Top Ten hits One on One and Family Man. The following year, the duo released a greatest hits compilation that featured two new Top Ten hits – the #2 Say It Isn’t So and Adult Education.
In April 1984, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that Hall & Oates had surpassed The Everly Brothers as the most successful duo in rock history, earning a total of 19 gold and platinum awards.
Released in October 1984, Big Bam Boom expanded their number of gold and platinum awards, selling over two million copies and launching four Top 40 singles, including the #1 Out of Touch. Following their contract-fulfilling gold album Live at the Apollo, Hall & Oates went on hiatus.
After the lukewarm reception for Daryl Hall’s 1986 solo album, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, the duo regrouped to release 1988’s Ooh Yeah!, their first record for Arista. The first single, Everything Your Heart Desires, went to #3 and helped propel the album to platinum status.
But their era of chart dominance was over. Change of Season (1990) confirmed that fact.
The duo mounted a comeback in 1997 with Marigold Sky, but it was only partially successful; far better was 2003’s Do It for Love and the following year’s soul covers record Our Kind of Soul.
During the 2010s, the duo were very active, both together and separately. There were several Hall & Oates tours and they performed together on American Idol and The Voice. In 2011, Hall released his fifth solo album, Laughing Down Crying, and that same year Oates released a blues tribute album titled Mississippi Mile.
The duo were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.