In 1969, Philadelphia friends Daryl Hall and John Oates began a musical partnership that blended rock and pop with their hometown's signature soul-a sound they dubbed "rock and soul." It worked. From the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s, Hall & Oates racked up six No. 1 hits including "Rich Girl," "Private Eyes," "Kiss on My List," and "Maneater," on the way to becoming one of the biggest-selling pop duos with at least 10 certified platinum albums, according to the RIAA. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, but Hall and Oates have never been joined at the hip-they began moonlighting as solo artists as early as Hall's 1977 Sacred Songs sessions.
Since 2007, Hall has also hosted award-winning Web series "Live From Daryl's House" (livefromdarylshouse.com), where he invites everyone from Train to Todd Rundgren to his home in Millerton, N.Y., for candid conversations, live performances and off-the-cuff collaborations. Now 64, Hall is preparing to bring "Live From Daryl's House" to TV and for the Sept. 27 Verve Forecast release of "Laughing Down Crying"--his first set of solo songs to arrive stateside since the 2003 release of his 1996 set "Can't Stop Dreaming" (Liquid 8).
"Live From Daryl's House" comes to TV this fall-how will that work?
I'm really excited about it. I've done 48 shows [online]. We're re-editing those shows for television. And of course we're continuing on the Internet, so we're always coming up with new shows. It'll be virtually the entire country covered with various local stations; the majority of the shows are being shown Saturday or Sunday night in the 11-12, 12-1 area.
Any favorite guests?
Smokey [Robinson] was the one who I'd say was my childhood idol. I wanted to be Smokey. I learned a lot from Smokey, and so my feelings for him go way, way back, and it was a very magical experience, not unlike what I did with the Temptations at the Apollo Theater back in the '80s with John Oates.
How did you balance a solo career with being in a duo?
When John and I first started, we depended on each other. We were two kids making our way through a very tough part of the record business, the streets of Philadelphia, the streets of New York. As we grew up, we found out more about who we were as individual people, and that started being reflected in what we were doing musically. We're more like brothers than friends, and as long as we can find time to do things [together], we do them. Creatively, I think we've moved away from working together as far as creating new music, at least for the near future. We like playing songs that we have given the world together. And we also like doing stuff on our own.
Longtime bassist/collaborator T-Bone Wolk died at the start of the "Laughing Down Crying" sessions. Is the album a tribute to him?
This album is a total tribute to T-Bone. We worked on the preparation for this collection of songs [together] and then we went in the studio, and within the first week, T-Bone passed. T-Bone was really part of this record all the way through. His spirit is on every song, even the ones he didn't play on.
What's your outlook on the music business?
I've always been very self-sufficient, and [now] the business has gone my way, I feel much more in control and comfortable in the sort of chaotic condition of the music business... with the idea that big isn't better, that loyalty is what's important; having a loyal tribe is more important than having sort of everyman.
Why a new record now?
I've gone through a lot of changes--T-Bone being one of them--in my personal life... a new way of thinking, a new way of relating to people. I couldn't tell you how many changes I've made in a personal sense, combined with the way the world is, this upside-down thing that seems to be going on. That's one of the reasons I called the record "Laughing Down Crying," because it's complete confusion. It reflects a very transitional time in my life, a very intense time. I tried to get all that into 10 or 11 songs, and I think I pulled it off.