Hall and Oates:The Self-Righteous Brothers

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Jeb Brien, head of marketing for champion entertainment, is concerned. He's worried about the cover of Rolling Stone. "Can I suggest a headline?" he says, glancing over at Daryl Hall, who is rehearsing "Method of Modern Love." "Here's my headline: Two heads are better than three. That would be my headline. I'll tell you why. Here's why: It's not cool for guys to walk around with a T-shirt that has two guys on it."

Brien, who is nearly as obsessed with Hall and Oates as Tommy Mottola is, says this with great seriousness. "I'll explain," he says. "Two is a couple. And male couples, like Hall and Oates, are threatening to males. For instance, at the Rolling Stone cover shoot, I didn't want Bert Stern [the photographer] to know my inherent problems. I didn't want to say, 'Daryl, don't put your arm around John!' which is what he was doing. That was a really comfortable pose, but that's the fucking problem we fight: don't touch each other.

"Daryl never poses, but John needs the closeness," Brien goes on, still steaming, still trying to explain. "I didn't want to say anything in front of Bert Stern, but when we left, Daryl and John said, 'That was amazing.' And I said, 'Amazing! You're gonna get a Rolling Stone cover with your arms around each fucking other.' And whatever the headline says, it's still two guys. Not three. It's not, 'Hey – it's the guys.' It's yin and yang. It's here's this macho, fucking asshole and this pretty blond with blue eyes. Do you know what I'm saying? There's no band. There's just Daryl and John. It's two guys.

"Our audience is seventy-five percent female," Brien continues. "We're trying to garner the male audience. And while I'm not trying to say that Daryl Hall is a man's man, he is an artist's artist. I'd like to see him perceived like Sting. Or David Bowie. Men should be able to respect an artist's artist the way they do a man's man."

Daryl Hall has a tattoo on his right shoulder, a seven-point star. "It's a symbol of aspiration," Hall says. "And emotion and inspiration. It's kind of the target for the arrow. So I wear the target and I'm the arrow."

Hall lights a cigarette. We are in a San Francisco hotel room, a month and a half after the videotaping. The band is touring now, playing live, and "Out of Touch" has just hit Number One on the pop charts after a bitter battle with Wham! and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." (Hall: "I hate that song.") Big Bam Boom is speeding up the album charts as well, and on tour fans have been receptive to the new material. Hall and Oates have dropped "Sara Smile" and "She's Gone" from their act with little audience complaint, and the arenas are selling out. You can almost hear the arrow hitting the target, but Daryl Hall doesn't seem particularly happy. "There is so much misconception," he says, pouring some red wine into a glass. "And Top Forty radio isn't a forum for deep thinking. But, then, neither is the world. And I have to live in the world, so all I can do is make music that I think is the best music I can make. There's enough depth in our music to satisfy anything that anyone would want. I can't think of anything anyone could do that would be more complex than what I'm doing right now."

Hall pauses. This is, of course, the same Hall and Oates refrain, yet Hall repeats it with great authority. It's no pose, although it's still difficult to accept. Hall is, however, quite evangelical on this point. He wants converts, he wants believers. And his fervor is convincing.

"People think I'm a pop star who is controlled by the business," he says, "and that I somehow sold my talent out. It is anything but that. If anything, I control the business. I've given them what I want, and it's my best shot, and if they can sell it, then that's good. But I'm proud of everything I've ever done. And I think what I do is as significant as anything anyone's doing in the world right now. And fucking listen to me. That's what I say."

Hall smiles. He looks vaguely evil. "That's the end of the sermon," he says. "But you haven't heard the last of me." He pulls out a cigarette and lights it. "You'll see," he says, "I'll get you yet. And that's a promise, not a threat."

This story is from the January 17th, 1985 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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