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Hall & Oates

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They made great music together for four decades, but not Daryl Hall and John Oates are facing a crossroads. Hall is suing Oates and has a restraining order against his former partner as he objects to Oates’ sales of a larger portion of their music catalog to Primary Wave.

Hall, 77, and Oates, 75, formed the duo Hall & Oates in 1970 while attending Temple University in Philadelphia. Through their years together, they recorded classic radio hits like “Sara Smile” “Rich Girl,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” “Out of Touch,” and others that made them one of the main creators of “blue-eyed” soul in their ’70s and ’80s heyday. The two have gone on to solo projects with Hall being especially active through his touring and collaborating with other artists on Live From Daryl’s House.

Through his trust, The Daryl Hall Recovable Trust, Hall filed a complaint against Oates’s trust and his two co-trustees in Nashville Chancery Court. There are portions of the suit that are confidential, but The Associated Press was the first to report that the catalog was the main point of contention.

It’s believed that Hall wants to prevent Oates from selling any more of their joint music catalog, Whole Oats Enterprises, that Primary Wave doesn’t already own. They purchased a large portion of the duo’s back catalog in 2007.

In 2022, Hall said that he and Oates’ relationship was strictly business.

“You think John Oates is my partner?” he told Bill Maher on his Club Random podcast. “He’s my business partner. He’s not my creative partner.”

He added, “John and I are brothers, but we are not creative brothers. We are business partners. We made records called Hall & Oates together, but we’ve always been very separate, and that’s a really important thing for me.”

The lawsuit alleges that Oates has already agreed to a sale, and in doing so, disclosed some confidential information about the duo’s business agreement. Hall’s suit says that invalidates the entire transaction based on breach of contract.

Primary Wave, a music publishing and talent company, has gobbled up much of the back catalog of musicians including Prince, James Brown, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Lamont Dozier of Holland Dozier Holland (who wrote many Motown hits), and more. As with any music publishing company, it then licenses the music for music, TV, film, and increasingly, gaming.

It appears that despite the money these artists and their estates have received for selling all or a part of their catalogs, Oates does not want to sell any more.

“Oh, in the early days, it got sold off for me and I didn’t get the money,” Hall said in a 2021 interview with Sky News about the initial Primary Wave deal. “I have a bit of my publishing, but a lot of bad business was done in the early days – I’m a real rock and roll story when it comes to that kind of thing. 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 is that.”

For now, the sale is on hold until the legal process plays out.

Hall vs. Oates: Legendary Duo Beefing Over Music Catalog Sale  was originally published on