John Oates

John Oates Biography

Songwriter, Singer, Music Producer, Guitarist (c. 1949–)
John Oates teamed up with fellow musician Daryl Hall to form the mega-hit duo Hall & Oates, known for songs like "Kiss on My List," "One on One" and "Out of Touch."


Born on April 7, 1949, in New York City, John Oates eventually began collaborating with a fellow singer-songwriter to form the act Daryl Hall & John Oates. The two would be lauded as pop music's most successful duo, with hits including "Sara Smile," "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes" and "Out of Touch." Oates has also worked with other artists and released his own solo projects, including 2013's Good Road to Follow.


John William Oates was born on April 7, 1949, in New York City. He began singing and playing the guitar during childhood, and as a toddler, he and his family moved to a town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Oates soon developed a deep affinity for both R&B and folk music, which would find voice in his own projects. In the mid-1960s, he co-wrote and recorded the soul song "I Need Your Love," garnering radio airplay.

After high school, Oates attended Temple University, where fellow musician Daryl Hall was also enrolled. The two met after running out of a record hop that turned violent, and performed together and separately in other projects for a time thereafter before forming the duo Daryl Hall & John Oates. They signed with Atlantic Records in 1972.

Hall & Oates

The two released their debut album, Whole Oats, in 1972, followed by 1974's War Babies. In 1976, they moved to New York, where they signed with RCA and produced such popular singles as "Sara Smile" and "Rich Girl," which went to No. 4 and No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts, respectively.

Though viewed as purveyors of Philly and blue-eyed soul, the duo's sound evolved to incorporate pop-rock as well; Daryl Hall & John Oates would eventually be lauded as the most successful hit-making duo in popular music history, earning a plethora of gold and platinum sales certifications.

Hits: 'Kiss on My List,' 'Private Eyes' and 'Out of Touch'

Having a smaller charter presence as the 1970s ended, Hall & Oates re-emerged with 1980's Voices, which they produced and which featured the chart topper "Kiss on My List" and the Top 5 track "You Make My Dreams"—both bouncy, cheery odes to romance.

They continued to release top-selling records throughout the early and mid-'80s: The title track of Private Eyes (1981) became another No. 1 pop hit for the act, while the album's funk-driven, ethereal "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" landed atop both the pop and R&B charts. H20 (1982) featured No. 1 "Maneater" as well as the Top 10 entrants "One on One" and "Family Man." Hall & Oates' 1983 greatest-hits set, Rock 'n Soul, Part 1, featured such new tunes as "Adult Education" and "Say It Isn't So," while their double-platinum Big Bam Boom (1984) offered up "Method of Modern Love" and yet another No. 1 single, "Out of Touch."

Taking a break from performing together after a 1985 live album at the Apollo, the duo reunited with the platinum 1988 album Ooh Yeah!, featuring the Top 5 song "Everything Your Heart Desires." Over the ensuing years, they would release a few more albums, including Marigold Sky (1997) and Our Kind of Soul (2004).

Moving to Colorado

Propelled at least partially by his work with Hall, Oates also worked as a producer and songwriter with other artists, and as such, landed another Top 10 hit as a co-writer on the Icehouse song "Electric Blue."

Having returned to New York City at one point, Oates decided to pack it all up after learning that he was rich in acquisitions but had limited cash. He sold his things, moved to Colorado for a simpler life and eventually started a family. In an interview with Esquire magazine, the musician emphasized the importance of pursuing one's passion and developing skills rather than going after fame.

Solo Albums

John Oates released a number of solo studio albums in the early 2000s, including Phunk Shui (2002), 1000 Miles of Life (2008) and Mississippi Mile (2011), in addition to live recordings. (Though Hall was the main singer of the duo, Oates sings on his own work.) In 2013, Oates released the lead single "High Maintenance," featuring pop group Hot Chelle Rae, with other singles slated to be released every month thereafter in support of the forthcoming album Good Road to Follow. The musician also has a web series, Detours With John Oates.

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