Hall Against Oates

The men behind the famous duo are coming to Philly this summer. But certainly not together.

hall and oates

/ Photograph by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Let me take you back to the very early 1980s. This was a much different era in the world of music, driven by cocaine and MTV. Disco was completely and utterly dead. Rap and hair metal had yet to really take hold. Madonna wasn’t a thing. But what was very much a thing were two guys from Temple with memorable hair and an even more memorable sound that uniquely fused rock, Gamble & Huff-style soul, and some of the New Wave tendencies of the time. This was Hall & Oates, whose songs “Maneater” and “Private Eyes” were on heavy rotation. A true musical marriage, and a massively successful one at that.

But here it is 2024, and my, how things have changed. Yes, in the world of music. (Hello, TikTok and Auto-Tune.) But also in the relationship of Hall and Oates, whose marriage is very much on the rocks. This month, Daryl Hall comes to the Mann Center, noticeably without John Oates, who shows up in August doing his solo routine at the Cape May Convention Hall and then, days later, in the headlining slot of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. 

The pair have done solo tours and solo albums in the past, but they still toured together — as Hall & Oates — as recently as late 2022. Over the years, their personalities clashed more and more, though, and they moved in different musical directions. (As somebody who has interviewed Hall twice, I can tell you that he never wanted to talk about Hall & Oates; he only wanted to talk about himself.) But by the end of 2022, things were different. The two men had officially begun talking about dissolving their partnership and all the legal intricacies involved. Likeness rights. Publishing rights. Royalties. Trademarks. Social media assets. You get the picture. Not exactly uncomplicated.

Then something unexpected happened. As relatively civil dissolution discussions were underway, Oates — reportedly without notifying Hall — up and decided to sell his share in all things Hall & Oates to an investment firm whose portfolio includes music by Whitney Houston, Stevie Nicks and Prince. Hall cried foul, saying Oates couldn’t do that without his permission. And he sued Oates in Nashville, where Oates has had a home for years. That lawsuit is ongoing, much of it sealed by a judge. But in one document that’s not sealed, Hall accused Oates of committing the “ultimate partnership betrayal.”

Things went quiet for a while as the case wound its way through court, as it continues to do to this day. But in recent months, Hall confirmed to Variety that Hall & Oates was officially in the rearview mirror. The duo was done. Fini. One hundred percent. And Oates spoke out in May amid a publicity tour for his ironically named new album Reunion, landing interviews with the Today show and Good Morning America that he probably wouldn’t have been offered if not for the recent controversy. At the end of the day, Oates told NBC, “It’s a boring legal issue that’s really not worthy of making headlines.” To which I say, you keep writing the songs, John, and let us worry about the headlines.

So you’ll still hear “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” on the radio and streaming services. And both Hall and Oates will continue to play Hall & Oates classics at their solo gigs. But if you’re hoping to one day see the ampersand return, that seems about as unlikely as a Led Zeppelin reunion.

Published as “Hall Against Oates” in the July 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.