John Oates opens up about Daryl Hall amid bitter legal battle: ‘I have moved on’

John Oates, half of the hugely successful pop rock duo Hall & Oates, has opened up about his partnership with Daryl Hall amid their ongoing and fractious legal battle.

Hall, 77, is suing Oates, 75, in an initially confidential lawsuit that came to light in November when Hall also filed for and received a temporary restraining order against Oates in a Nashville court.

A week later it was revealed that Hall is attempting to block Oates from selling his share of the duo’s Whole Oats Enterprises to music publisher Primary Wave Music, which has acquired numerous song catalogues in recent years by artists including Prince, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Stevie Nicks, The Doors, Ray Charles and more.

In a declaration filed in November, Hall called the planned sale a “completely clandestine and bad faith move” in “blatant violation” of longstanding business agreements between the pair. Oates filed a response within hours, describing Hall’s statements as “inflammatory, outlandish, and inaccurate”.

On Wednesday, speaking on the latest episode of David Yontef’s Behind the Velvet Rope podcast, Oates said their music “will stand the test of time, that will hopefully live on forever”.

“You can’t ignore the fact that the Hall & Oates catalogue of hits and the 50-year career will always trump almost anything that Daryl does on his own or I do on my own, which is OK because I’m very proud of that music,” he said. “I’m really proud of what Daryl and I created together.”

But Oates added that “I don’t like to live in the past … I make the analogy of what it’s like when you go to a great museum and you’re really excited to go and see all the beautiful paintings or the exhibits or whatever it might be, and then near the end, when your feet start to hurt, you say, ‘You know what? I can’t wait to get out of here.’ That’s kind of how I feel about it.”

Reflecting on the height of their fame in the 1980s, Oates said: “It was very intense, there was no time for reflection. It was a lot of business demands, a lot of heavy demands … Daryl and I were at the top of the pop world. We had No 1 record after No 1 record. We were traveling around the world constantly. Everyone thinks that that was probably the high point of my life, but to be honest with you, it actually wasn’t my favourite time. I liked the 70s more than the 80s because everything was new.”

Asked by Yontef if there was a song he’d be happy to never play live again, Oates said: “To be honest with you, I am not really touring with Daryl these days. I’m doing solo shows and I’m really glad I can play new music now because it feels like a breath of fresh air for me.”

“I have moved on. It’s just a matter of living in my present,” he added.

Primary Wave bought a “significant” stake in Hall & Oates’s catalogue rights 16 years ago. But in 2021, Hall signalled he regretted doing so, telling Sky News: “Never sell your publishing – maybe if you’re, you know, 80 years old and you decided to retire, then you can sell your publishing but I wouldn’t even suggest it then. I don’t believe in that concept – it’s all you have.”

A judge issued a temporary restraining order against a sale of Whole Oats Enterprises assets to Primary Wave, meaning that the case will have to enter arbitration before any sale can go ahead.

The duo, behind hits including Private Eyes, Rich Girl, Maneater and You Make My Dreams, formed in 1972 and have never officially broken up. But in his declaration in November, Hall said that the pair were already engaged in a less fractious “global divorce” that will bring their creative partnership to a close.

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