John Oates – A Bio
John Oates was destined to be a musician. Singing from the time he could talk and
playing the 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 50's.... 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 an lasting impression on John. 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 spinning
obscure Doo Wop records and B sides.
When it came to influences John was open to more than just the top 40 hits...his
friends' older brother turned him on to the nascent folk music scene that began to sweep
the country in the early 60's. 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 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 hearing many of the 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.
In the late 60's John moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University to be
closer to the city's music scene. 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 called 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.
Around the same time he met 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 rediscover folk
performers, such as; Doc Watson, Reverend Gary Davis, Dave Van Ronk and
Mississippi John for whom Philadelphia's folk venues, like the Second Fret and Main
Point, were frequent stops in their concert schedules. John had the unique opportunity to
play alongside some of these seminal musicians learning first hand, their finger picking
and flat picking styles.
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 70's Hall & Oates have gone
on to record 21 albums which have sold over 80 million units making them the most
successful duo in rock history. They have scored 10 number one records, over 20 top 40
hits and have toured the world for decades. 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 personally and through their music, 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 Chel Rae, all of
whom have credited and acknowledged H&O's considerable contribution to American
In addition to their numerous American Music, MTV awards and multiple
Grammy nominations, in 2005 they were inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of
Fame and in May of 2008 will were presented the prestigious BMI Icon Award for their
outstanding career achievement in song writing. In April 2014, Hall & Oates were
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He 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” and a live album called
“The Bluesville Sessions." His latest project is called: GOOD ROAD TO FOLLOW
began as a series of digital singles featuring collaborations with legendary as well
as new rising stars. In March of 2014, the songs were compiled into a critically acclaimed
fifteen song, three disc album. The wide range of songs and productions showcases the
unique musical diversity that has become the trademark of his artistic talent.
When, not touring with his solo show or with Daryl Hall, John, his wife Aimee
and their son Tanner divide their time between Nashville Tennessee and their rescue
ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, along with dogs, Emus, Peacocks, Llamas
and Alpacas. In his free time he enjoys driving his tractor, riding his mountain bike,
hiking the backcountry and telemark skiing
For more information on John, visit him online at www.johnoates.com