Sat Aug 15, 4:30 PM Shade Stage Writers’ Block WORKSHOP
Sun Aug 16, 10:00 PM TD Main Stage
John Oates was destined to be a musician. Singing from the time he could talk and playing guitar since the age of five, his calling in life was never in question. Born in New York City, his family moved to a small town outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the early 1950s–a move that would change the course of his life. Like most kids at that time, the impact of the early days of rock left a lasting impression. At the age of four he witnessed his first live concert: Bill Haley and the Comets playing their classic rockabilly hits at a local amusement park.
Then there were the records. He began to collect 45 rpm singles: treasures from Little Richard, Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Conway Twitty, Gary U.S. Bonds and, of course, Elvis. He spent countless hours twisting the dial on his AM transistor radio trying to tune in the local R&B stations and listening to DJs like Jerry Blavat spin obscure Doo Wop records and B-sides.
When it came to influences John was open to more than just the Top 40 hits. A friend’s older brother turned him onto the nascent folk music scene that began to sweep the country in the early 60s. John’s interest in traditional American music began, and he immersed himself in discovering primitive Appalachian Scotch Irish ballads, bluegrass, delta blues and the ragtime guitar styles performed by many of the newly rediscovered bluesmen and folk singers (who also began to make appearances at the Newport and Philadelphia folk festivals). At the same time, he had the unique opportunity to attend shows at the famous Uptown Theater by R&B legends like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield as well as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Absorbing it all, he developed a kind of musical split personality.
One night, John might be wearing a sharkskin suit playing everything from Doo Wop to the big R&B hits of the day with his band and the next night he would be playing solo with his acoustic guitar in a local coffee house performing blues and folk. To this day, the very same roots and influences still can be heard in John’s original playing and singing style.
John had the good fortune to meet an influential guitar player/ teacher named Jerry Ricks (who had spent time on the road with Mississippi John Hurt and Son House). Jerry took John under his wing and introduced him to many of the newly rediscovered folk performers (such as Doc Watson, Reverend Gary Davis, Dave Van Ronk and Mississippi John) for whom Philadelphia’s folk venues The Second Fret and Main Point were frequent stops. John had the unique opportunity to play alongside some of these seminal musicians–learning first-hand, their finger picking and flat picking styles.
In 1966, he wrote and recorded his first single, “I Need Your Love,” recorded at the legendary Virtue Sound Studio on North Broad Street and released on the Crimson label owned by a local music store The Record Museum. The song was arranged by Bobby Martin, who at the time was producing and arranging for Gamble and Huff. The single received airplay on Philly’s R&B radio stations, and John began to divide his time between being a student and a professional musician.
In the late ‘60s John moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and be closer to the city’s music scene. While attending Temple, John met Daryl Hall and they began their historic partnership. After graduating in 1970 with a degree in journalism, John devoted the next few years working with Daryl in Philadelphia, establishing the sound that would one day become world famous.
When John first met Daryl Hall it was their mutual love for urban rhythm and blues blended with the more rural roots of Americana music that created their unique sound. Since the formation of their partnership in the early ‘70s, Hall & Oates have recorded 21 albums which have sold over 80 million units (making them the most successful duo in rock history). They have scored 10 No. 1 records, over 20 Top 40 hits and have toured the world. Their involvement in the original “Live Aid” concert and the ground breaking “We Are The World” charity recording have further established them as legendary artists who have stood the test of time. Their influence on modern pop music has been cited by numerous contemporary bands like the Gym Class Heroes, The Killers and Hot Chelle Rae, all of whom have credited and acknowledged H&O’s considerable contribution to American popular music.
In addition to their numerous American Music, MTV Awards and GRAMMY® nominations, in 2005 Hall & Oates was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame and in May of 2008 was presented the prestigious BMI Icon Award for outstanding career achievement in song writing. In April 2014 Hall & Oates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Oates is also the creator and executive producer for the “7908 the Aspen Songwriters Festival” that brings together the finest songwriters from around the world to perform at the Historic Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado. The festival’s mission is to celebrate the art and craft of songwriting, combined with a strong educational component dedicated to mentoring and developing the next generation of songwriters..
Since 1999, John has recorded five solo albums: Phunk Shui, 1000 Miles of Life, Mississippi Mile, the live album The Bluesville Sessions, and Good Road to Follow. 2013’s Good Road to Follow began as a series of digital singles featuring collaborations with both legendary and rising stars (such as Vince Gill and Ryan Tedder). In March 2014 the songs were compiled into a critically acclaimed fifteen song, three disc album.
In January 2015 John released his latest project on PS Records/Elektra Records, the CD/DVD set Another Good Road (which was also a featured Palladia TV special). Recorded live in a Nashville studio in one session and featuring some of Music City’s finest musicians and singers, the intimate performance video also contains rare, seldom-seen footage of his family ranch in Colorado and a glimpse into John’s world behind the music. Songs include live gems from Good Road To Follow, as well as three new, never-before-recorded songs. This performance captures the early roots influences of Americana and blues blended with his unique pop sensibilities that has earned John world wide popularity and respect over the last four decades.
When not touring John, his wife Aimee and their son Tanner divide their time between Nashville and their rescue ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado (along with multiple dogs, emus, peacocks, llamas and alpacas).