The duo of Hall & Oates sold over 80 million copies of their 21 albums, with 34 top-100 hits, making them pop’s most successful duo of all time. Also, personally, I love the shit out of them. Hall & Oates were one of the very first musical acts that my sister (9) and I (13) both loved simultaneously. One Christmas, when she was in love with Daryl Hall, she asked Santa Claus for the Big Bam Boom album. Then she got mad when I asked for it too and Santa brought us both copies. More than twenty years after that controversial Big Bam Boom Christmas, I fronted a Hall and Oates cover band. I played Daryl.
So twas a great thrill and honor when John Oates himself, visiting New Orleans to perform and write some new songs with the Preservation Hall Band (a collaboration I dubbed “Preservation Hall and Oates”), agreed to let me pick him up from his hotel, conduct an interview, then drop him off at “work” in the Quarter.
That interview turned out great, and you can read it HERE at Vice. He was as smooth and pleasant as his duo’s tunes, which I assumed to be the reason he could so graciously play second fiddle to Hall. I told him, “I am very interested in the psychology of the sideman — you’re not a sideman, but are often perceived as one. It seems like it’d be easy for you to get fed up with that. I’ve always felt it’s a testament to your personality that Hall and Oates have never had any kind of public rift. How do you navigate this perception of yourself as being, maybe, second fiddle?”
Oates said, “I am OK with it because I don’t think of myself that way. Other people may, the world may, but that’s fine. I kind of look at it in a more Zen way: you can’t have a beautiful sunset without a horizon. Also, we’re like brothers. Daryl has a very specific personality, but it’s also very consistent. We’ve been friends since high school, 45 years. So nothing he does will ever surprise me. And the coolest thing about it is, I respect his idiosyncrasies and he respects mine. He’s a very in-your-face person when it comes to performing, and he has a tremendous voice. And the fact that his voice became the signature sound of Hall and Oates is just the way it is.”
The funniest part though, came before we went inside Preservation Hall. When Oates and his signature mustache stepped out of my truck, I stopped him and asked, “Could I take a photo of you beside my truck? I want a photo of you and my truck.”
“Sure,” he shrugged. “Why?”
“Well, I’m about to sell it on Craigslist, and I think I could get more money for it if I said…”
“If you said ‘These seats touched John Oates’s ass,’” he joked dryly. “Sounds like a plan.” He gladly took the photo below, which I treasure. And I did indeed get a more than fair price for that truck.
As we parted ways, Oates said to me, “You work for VICE — I really want to do that Guitar Moves show. There’s a guy who does this thing online…” He meant Matt Sweeney, former guitarist from Chavez, and the band Soldier of Fortune featuring my boy Brad Truax from the band Home. Very killer, Matt’s my Twitter buddy. “Yeah. I saw a few episodes,” said Oates, “and thought, Man, I gotta do that show.”
Oates gave me his cellphone number (always a treat to scroll through my Contacts and see John Oates), but that episode of Guitar Moves is still yet to be filmed.
Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.