(12th in a series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)
First, there was the Everly Brothers. Then Jan & Dean. Then the Righteous Brothers. Then Simon & Garfunkel. And along the way, there also have been Sam & Dave, Sonny & Cher, Peter & Gordon, Chad & Jeremy, Loggins & Messina, Seals & Crofts, Steely Dan, the Pet Shop Boys and countless others (Skip & Flip, Don & Juan, Dick & DeeDee, Paul & Paula anyone? No? Then would you believe the Kalin Twins?).
All great duos with very successful careers.
But one of the most successful duos of all is none of the above. The accomplishments of Daryl Hall and John Oates have matched or surpassed all duos of the Rock & Roll era and yet five of the above are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, while Hall & Oates have yet to even rate a nomination.
Say it isn’t so.
The Everly Brothers were, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, the greatest duo in Rock history. Their magical harmony never has been approached. The Righteous Brothers recorded one of the most successful hits of all time in “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and many other classics as well and demonstrated quite forcefully the existence and legitimacy of “Blue-Eyed Soul.” Simon & Garfunkel, riding the songwriting brilliance of Paul Simon, have rightfully become living legends. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, operating under the moniker Steely Dan, managed to create tasteful, intellectual recordings sure to stand the test of time.
Sam & Dave sang on just a couple classic singles, but did record for Atlantic Records, which seems to count more than any accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Hall & Oates was ranked the top group on the Hot 100 during the 80s, and came in fourth overall in this decade, trailing just Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna. And this discounts their success in the 1970s, which included three top 10 singles, including the No. 1 “Rich Girl.”
That’s keeping pretty impressive company, yet the Philadelphia pair may as well be invisible as far as the Hall of Fame is concerned. Out of touch?
As is the custom of this series, I will present the argument for Hall & Oates’ inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Some things are better left unsaid, and I try not to knock those already inducted, but this time I am going to compare the duo with Sam & Dave, inducted in 1992, and you can draw your own conclusions.
So, begin drawing.
In America, between January 1966 and March 1969, Sam & Dave charted 13 singles only three of which hit the top 40. During the same three-year period, they had four chart albums, including a greatest hits collection, none of which cracked the top 40. After their brief success, they could hardy stand each other, breaking up and disappearing as fast as they came. Hall & Oates, on the other hand, had 33 chart singles during their 16-year heyday which spanned from 1974 until 1990. Sixteen of these reached the top 10 and six topped the charts. During the same time span, 17 of their albums charted, four reaching the top 10.
In The U.K., Sam & Dave never had a single or album crack the top 10. In fact, “Hold On, I’m Comin,'” one of their two most memorable hits along with “Soul Man,” stiffed completely. Hall & Oates placed two singles and two LPs in the British Top 10 and charted many others.
Hall & Oates even placed more entries on the U.S. Rhythm & Blues singles chart, besting Sam & Dave 18-14.
Now I agree that chart success should not be the lone criteria for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. So I further these considerations – Hall & Oates played instruments. As far as I know, Sam & Dave did not. More importantly, Hall & Oates wrote their own material. In fact, they wrote material for other artists as well, the No. 1 “Everytime You Go Away” by Paul Young being just one example. Sam & Dave did not. Hell, they never even spoke most of the time.
Last summer, two shows in Atlantic City Casinos were announced as instant sell-outs. Jeff Beck and Hall & Oates. The duo continues to flourish, appearing on most of the super popular shows of the day – “American Idol” and “Dancing With The Stars,” for instance – and their music has been sampled on current cuts too numerous to mention. But perhaps the biggest eye opener for the many of those who wonder just what role Oates plays came before Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia. Hall, the lead voice on most of the duo’s hits, was supposed to sing the National Anthem, but became ill. Oates took his place and delivered a gorgeous version, prompting many to say or think, “I didn’t even know he could sing.”
So what’s going on with those who nominate artists for the Hall of Fame?
if you’ve been following this blog, you know my thoughts already. But the matchup of Hall & Oates and Sam & Dave – One On One – is what first drew my attention to it, so it bears repeating, especially if you haven’t been following this blog from its “Introduction.”
Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records, was a driving force behind the Hall of Fame until his recent passing. He was inducted in the Hall’s second class, along with Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler. Since that time, almost everyone who has recorded for Atlantic or its Atco subsidiary has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
What label did Sam & Dave record for? Wexler signed them and their records were on Stax, but distributed by Atlantic, until 1968 when they recorded for – Atlantic. Meanwhile, Hall & Oates started with Atlantic, but when their third album – the heavily rock-oriented “War Babies” produced by Todd Rundgren – was thought to be too much of a departure from their R&B flavored first two LPs, the label dropped them. That’s right. They were dropped for being too “Rock.”
It’s a laugh.
Don’t get me wrong. do some of the Atlantic inductees deserve the honor? Do woodchucks chuck wood?
Maybe – in a real stretch – even Sam & Dave deserve induction. But ahead of Hall & Oates and many of those others still waiting? In your imagination.
I can’t go for that…no can do.