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John Oates Talks Daryl Hall Legal Fight, Strained Relationship

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John Oates held very little back as he discussed his ongoing legal battle with Daryl Hall and the threadbare nature of the duo’s relationship in recent years in a new Good Morning America interview.

Late last year, Hall filed a restraining order against Oates in an effort to stop Oates from selling his half of their business venture, Whole Oates Enterprises, to Primary Wave. Hall, in legal documents, described the sale as a “completely clandestine and bad faith move,” a characterization Oates disputed. 

“We’ve always looked at ourselves as individuals working together,” Oates said on GMA. “And I felt like I had the right to do that. But, you know, he didn’t.”

Oates was frank about his decision to sell his half of the business and even seemed to frame his decision as a way of allowing Hall to free himself of Hall and Oates. “When this whole situation got mired in legality and really complex legal wranglings, I got frustrated,” Oates said. “And I said, ‘You know what? Daryl has always wanted to be his own man.’ I said, ‘I’m gonna give him the opportunity to do that. If I sell my half, he can do what he wants.’”

Oates continued: “And it was kinda ruining my life, to be honest with you. I wasn’t happy. And I said, ‘Well, I’ll just step aside,’ people do it all the time. I mean, you look at all the artists who are selling all their catalogs… it’s pretty common. It’s not that big a deal. But Daryl didn’t like the idea that I would sell to a certain third party.”

(That “certain third party,” Primary Wave, happens to already own a chunk of Hall and Oates’ music after Hall himself made a deal with the company in 2006. In recent interviews, however, Hall expressed some regret about that deal, especially as the market for artists selling their publishing has exploded in recent years.)

Just as he told Rolling Stone recently, Oates did not seem to think it was likely that Hall and Oates would ever reunite. “Not from my point of view, but you’ll need to ask Darryl how he feels about it,” quipped Oates (whose new solo album, out today, happens to be called Reunion).

He was also extremely blunt when discussing the duo’s recent working relationship, which consisted of little else besides playing concerts where they “trotted out the hits.” While before the lawsuit, there wasn’t much animosity between the two, they also “never really talked to each other” anyway. 

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“Over the past 20 years, we’d show up at a show individually, walk on stage, play, and then we’d go our separate ways,” Oates said. “It really wasn’t as tight as people might, you know, would like to imagine in their kind of a fantasy imagination of our relationship.”

Asked what he would say to Hall if he was watching, Oates replied: “I love you like a brother… but you know what? Brothers have disagreements, families grow apart… would say, I wish him the best. I hope that he has everything he wants in life. And that he can pursue his dream of being a respected solo artist, which I believe is something that he’s always wanted.”

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