Questlove loves Philadelphia almost as much as Mac loves Chase Utley, so when he learned that Philly’s favorite duo, Hall & Oates, had earned enshrinment in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Roots drummer let it be known that he was the only man who could induct them properly.
And lucky for him, H&O agreed.
“I mean, I’m a Philadelphian; we’re a proud city, so I felt it was only right to quasi-campaign for the gig,” Questo tells Rolling Stone backstage at Thursday night’s ceremony. “And I was pleasantly surprised and elated that they, too, saw that it made sense.”
Quest added that both groups share much more than just geography: He first discovered Hall & Oates through his father’s record collection, and in the years since, the Roots have forged a musical bond with the two, one that started with “blue-eyed soul” and has only branched out from there.
“They’re fans of the Roots. Both artists have sat in with the group on our day gig at the Tonight Show. We’ve had Daryl [Hall] perform with us in Philly on the Fourth of July the year before last,” Quest explained. “It was miraculous. It was awesome. Playing all those songs, G.E. Smith’s band with T-Bone [Wolk] and all those guys. That was a dream come true.”
And while he’s shared the stage with Hall & Oates several times, when it came time for Quest to offically induct them into the Hall on Thursday night, he seemingly reverted back to that kid who first dug in his dad’s crate, throwing on a H&O T-shirt and reminiscing about all he learned from the duo.
“The Silver album cover taught me something: that those two guys make beautiful women,” he joked. “They single-handedly reinvented the Carlton Dance for black people in the ‘hood. Hall and Oates will cure any known illness.”
He also paid homage to H&O’s longevity and popularity, both of which he attributed to one thing they learned back in Philadelphia: the power of music to transcend genres, eras and, most importantly, race.
“I’m gonna list all the duos in the rock era that were more popular than Hall and Oates … okay, I’m done,” he said, throwing in a brief pause for comedic effect. “They crossed all the boundaries, because that is what great music does.”
Additional reporting by Kory Grow