The Time Hall And Oates Showed Their Punk Side

If you were to compare not only the music, but also the visual presentation, behavior, and general “attitude” of punk rock to the zeitgeist of Hall and Oates, you’d see that the two things couldn’t be further apart. Punk rock, which started emerging in the late 1970s and early 1980s — coincidentally, right around the time Hall and Oates started getting big — relied on aggression, hatred for authority, a specific “look” with crazily-colored and styled hair, and most importantly, raw music. Hall and Oates, on the other time, were attractive, well-groomed men whose polished music produced radio-friendly pop hits twinged with soul and R&B.

But on one fateful day in the middle 1980s, according to Rolling Stone, the two men went all-in on punk for an appearance on MTV. They dressed the part, and they even did a bit of role-play as bored and hostile performers who were antagonistic to the audience — and some of it may not have even been acting. Even their manager, Tommy Mottola, was in on the bit.

Hall and Oates did a punk-themed MTV appearance to promote an album

In the middle 1980s, if you were a musician, you relied on MTV for exposure, and if you wanted to have any chance of selling your records, you had to promote yourself, and your music, on MTV.

Hall and Oates had just released their 12th studio album, “Big Bam Boom,” and in 1984 came onto the cable network to promote it. However, for reasons known only to whoever came up with the idea, it was decided that Daryl (Hall) and John (Oates) would role play as punk rockers for the bit. They would dress the part, and take questions from the audience and answer them as if they were punk performers, while host Mark Goodman was to role play as if he was hosting a punk act.

The audience was taken aback from the beginning, according to Rolling Stone. The first caller, identifying herself as “Cinnamon,” asked why the men were dressed so “punky.” Hall was forced to admit, on the spot, that he didn’t have an answer for that question. Things went downhill from there.

The entire thing was a failure (or was it?)

Live TV can always go wrong. Live TV that involves audience participation is particularly fraught. And live TV that involves audience participation as well as three men, who aren’t actors, doing a bit of role play is a recipe for disaster.

Following “Cinnamon’s” question, other inappropriate or off-topic questions followed. Many callers used a homophobic slur to ask about the relationship between the duo, according to Rolling Stone. A member of Hall and Oates’ team tried valiantly to find callers interested in asking about the album.

Hall and Oates themselves were confused and bored, and as such, didn’t really have to dig too deep in order to brush off the callers’ questions with snarky responses. Even Goodman, who was presumably in on the act, was confused, although ever the professional, he tried to keep things on track.

The next day, Hall and Oates and their team would assure a Rolling Stone writer that it was all just an act — a poorly-planned and poorly-executed act that they’d just as soon forget.

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