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John Oates Is Pretty Sure Hall & Oates Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together

When John Oates spoke to Rolling Stone in January 2020, he explained how balancing his time between massive Hall & Oates concerts with his longtime creative partner Daryl Hall and intimate solo gigs provided him with a dream life. “It keeps me balanced,” he said. “[When I tour solo], I carry my own gear. I show up with my guitar in my hand and put the amp in the back of my car. It’s real and I love it. Then I go out there with Daryl and we’re flying around in private planes and playing the Garden and doing all that. I love it.”

It was therefore a pretty big shock when, in November 2023, Hall accused Oates of committing the “ultimate partnership betrayal” by attempting to sell his share of their business without his permission in a legal filing that generated headlines all across the globe. They haven’t played a show together since October 2022. “[I am] deeply troubled by the deterioration of my relationship with, and trust in, John Oates,” Hall told the court. “His behavior has become adversarial and aggressive instead of professional and courteous.”

Oates wasn’t willing to discuss details of the ongoing legal battle when he spoke with RS recently about his new solo LP Reunion. But he did explain why his attitude toward Hall & Oates shifted so dramatically.

“I’ll tell you what changed,” he says. “During the pandemic, there were no more private planes. There were no more arena shows or even acoustic shows. It gave me a chance to step back. I had a chance to reevaluate things. My wife and I decided it was time to give back. We started the Oates Song Fest for Feeding America, and we fed 350,000 families with that. And then I was asked to do Movember, which was a men’s health movement. I just got out of the mode of getting back on stage with the big band and the big production.”

That big Hall & Oates production was at the center of his life for more than 50 years. He’s delivered hits like “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” and “Kiss on My List” alongside Hall well over a thousand times each. “I understand why people come and want to hear the big hits,” he says. “Those songs are going to live forever. But I wanted to relegate them to the classic file that they’re in. And I wanted them to be heard in the best possible light, the way they were when the spark was on fire in the Seventies and Eighties. That’s when those songs really resonated. To keep playing them, for me, was no longer interesting. I just wanted to do something else.”

In his perfect world, the business dispute with Hall — what Oates calls “a very boring business issue” — would never have become public. “There’s always disputes when people are famous. People are always fascinated about the dynamics of a duo,” he says. “And to be quite honest, Daryl and I have a business partnership, and there was some things about the business that we disagreed with, which happens all the time in business. And we’re going to work it out.” (A rep for Hall did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)

Last year, Hall played a series of dates with Todd Rundgren. At the end of the night, they sang each other’s songs together, including the Hall & Oates 1979 classic “Wait for Me.” The lawsuit hit right before he flew out to begin a new leg of the tour in Asia, and Hall accused of Oates of trying to sabotage the tour. “This recent bad faith conduct by John Oates and the Oates Trust has created tremendous upheaval, harm, and difficulty in my life,” Hall wrote in a legal filing. “I believe that John Oates timed the Unauthorized Transaction to create the most harm to me.”

Oates says this is untrue. “That’s what he said?” Oates asks. “I didn’t even know he was going on tour. I had nothing to do with that. If that’s how he perceived it, then that’s how he perceived it. But, really honestly, I don’t follow him on social media. In fact, I don’t even know what he’s doing. I hope he’s doing well and I hope he’s having a time of his life, but it’s not part of my life.”

According to Oates, he was also unaware that Hall was touring America with Elvis Costello later this year until RS informed him of the news. “I’m really glad that, in a way, this situation has given him the opportunity to be himself,” Oates says. “And however he wants to show himself and perform and be creative as an individual, I think it’s great, because that’s what I want to do.”

Despite all the current drama, Hall & Oates never formally broke up — they just stopped booking concert dates — and Wikipedia lists the duo’s active years as “1970-present.” Should an official end date be added to the career of one of the most successful pop duos of all time? “You can ask Daryl the same question,” Oates says. “But, yes. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve moved on. I feel like I have a new lease on my creative life.”

He then picks up a book and begins reading a passage. “I’m basically a Taoist,” he says. “And I’m going to read you something that was in my daily meditation today. It says, ‘The rule for those who follow Tao is this, ‘Walk the path together as long as you can, and when you must part, never hold your companion back.’”

“That’s how I feel about things,” he continues. “A good friend of mine said something to me when this was all starting. He said, ‘John, you were a musician before you met Daryl, and you’re still a musician. You’re an individual.’ And Daryl and I have always called ourselves Daryl Hall and John Oates, because we always wanted to be perceived as two individuals who work together. That was very important to us. If you look at the albums, you’ll see that on every album. And so this is the ultimate expression of that.”

However, Hall and Oates were also best friends. They even lived in an apartment together. The name of the group came from what their landlord scribbled on their mailbox: Hall & Oates. While they may never play together again, Oates doesn’t rule out repairing their friendship.


“I’m always open for that,” he says. “Daryl Hall is an amazing individual. He is one of the great, great songwriters of all time, and without a doubt, one of the great singers of all time. I would never say anything negative about him. But we have a different strategy for our lives, and we have a different strategy for our business lives as well as our personal lives. And that’s that, so be it. We’re old guys. We deserve to be allowed to do whatever we want to do.”

Does he hope those old guys can one day perform one last song together to end the story on a positive note? “I have no idea,” he says. “But I don’t see it. I really don’t. Life is funny though. You never know what kind of curve it will throw you.”

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