CAPTAIN & TENNILLE Story...
- Captain & Tennille recorded numerous follow-up, hit singles after
"Love Will Keep Us Together", including: Muskrat Love,
Shop Around, The Way I Want To Touch You, Youve
Never Done It Like That, Do That To Me One More Time,
"Come In From The Rain", and many others.
In 1976, the duo landed their own weekly variety television series on
ABC, The Captain & Tennille Show, which was followed by
three highly rated TV specials for the network. In 1980, Toni hosted her
own daily talk show - the nationally syndicated Toni Tennille Variety
Toni continues to enhance her career
by going back to her roots as she expresses it. At Auburn
University in Alabama, she earned her way through college by singing the
great standards of the 30s and 40s - backed by the full rich
sound of the colleges big band, the Auburn Knights. "
Daryl stays busy with his diverse career & internet-based interests
as well; Daryl....
- occasionally composes
presently, passionately involved in development of - and seeking funding
for an internet-based, 'entertainment portal' he has labeled, 'SurferzRule',
which Daryl envisions as an alternative e' business model to today's,
cut-throat entertainment industry - offering a viable, totally-democratic
(internet-based) launching pad for 'the gifted' in all fields - including,
of course, the field of music.
- occasionally produces
other musical artists.
The Captain &
Tennille, happily married since 1974, had lived quietly in northern Nevada
since they relocated there in 1984. In 2008, they moved to another beautiful,
serene area in the town of Prescott, Arizona. It comes as no surprise
that in their spare time, they enjoy hiking, cross country skiing, mountain
climbing and golf. Always a supporter of fine arts, Tennille was named
Ambassador For The Arts for the state of Nevada by Governor Bob Miller.
Certainly, it is a unique chemistry that exists between Toni and Daryl
that have made The Captain & Tennille a major force in contemporary
music. We never try to hold each other back in any way, says
Toni. We encourage each other to explore and expand our individual
talents to the undefined limits
- Career Highlights
& Discography -
by: Lisa Sutton, Courtesy
of Hip-O Records
The early 1970s was
a great time in pop music for family acts. Sibling singers like Carpenters,
the Jackson Five and the Osmonds were some of the top acts of the day,
paving the way for a whole genre that drove hit radio through the decade.
From this era also emerged one of the most successful husband and wife
teams in music history, the Captain and Tennille.
When Daryl Dragon, part-time Beach Boy and son of Oscar-winning orchestra
arranger/ conductor Carmen Dragon, met Toni Tennille, budding composer
and daughter of Big Band era singer, Frank Tennille, it was a fateful
event that would shape their entire future. They first met in 1971, in
the lobby of a theater in San Francisco where a musical play, called MOTHER
EARTH, that Toni had written with Ron Thronson,(a local playwrite-director
in Orange County, CA), was playing. She was looking for a keyboard player
for the show, and Daryl (nicknamed "Captain Keyboard" due to
his penchant for wearing a skippers cap) applied for the job in
person while on a break from touring with the Beach Boys. It was partnership
at first sight, as Toni took a quick liking to Daryl and hired him on
the spot. When the show closed a couple of months later, Daryl returned
the favor, asking Toni to join the Beach Boys as their only female member.
Daryl and Toni toured with the Beach Boys for a season, and returned to
Los Angeles together, where they began performing as a duo. As a nightclub
act, the pair began to attract a healthy local following as regulars at
The Smokehouse, in Encino. They recorded a demo tape of seven songs, and
Daryl began to shop them to labels as the local buzz grew. While Toni
and Daryl were still examining their options, a pair of local DJs came
to see their act, and told them if they could get a record to them, theyd
play it on the air.
Tonis composition "The Way That I
Want To Touch You" backed with Bruce Johnstons tribute
to more innocent times, "Disney
Girls," became their first record. 500 copies were
pressed on their own imprint, Butterscotch Castle, and circulated
to radio stations. The song was well received, and became a local hit
in Los Angeles. With the help of some independent promotion, and a distribution
deal with Joyce Records, it became a regional hit in a number of small
markets. Meanwhile, the Captain & Tennille continued shopping for
a record label.
"We had offers from five labels," Daryl says, "though they
didnt all pan out." "CBS decided to pass, because they
said they already had a blonde singer, (referring to one-hit-wonder Chi
Coltrane.)" says Toni. "Terry Melcher and I got them a deal
with RCA" says fellow Beach Boy, Bruce Johnston, "but RCA backed
out after seeing them live, saying they didnt realize they were
an older lounge act." Happily, A&M Records, home of the Carpenters,
offered the perfect harbor for the duo. "We decided to go with A&M
because they said I could produce the first album," says Daryl."
"It was perfect," adds Toni. "If it was a hit, Daryl could
continue to produce all our music. If it failed, A&M would assign
us a producer for the second album."
With Daryl at the helm, the first album was a meticulously produced pop
gem, driven by Daryls keyboards and Tonis powerful vocals.
The album became a real family affair, as Tonis sisters, Melissa,
Jane and Louisa sang background on the album. Daryls brother, future
Surf Punk Dennis Dragon, contributed his gift as sound engineer, as well
as playing drums and percussion on a couple of tracks. In addition to
producing, the multi-talented Daryl played the bass, piano and various
synthesizer parts on the platter, accompanied by Toni on keyboards on
many of the tracks. In anticipation of the first album, A&M reissued
"The Way I Want To Touch You,"
though it received a smaller fanfare this time around.
As the album neared completion, the duo realized it was in need of another
up-tempo number. A&R man Kip Cohen at A&M suggested "Love
Will Keep Us Together," a track from Neil Sedakas
then-recent comeback LP, "Sedakas Back." The duo went
back into the studio, and worked up their own arrangement of the Sedaka/Greenfield
tune, and the result was a total knockout. Everyone involved knew it was
a hit, and the first Captain & Tennille LP was named after the sure
thing. The single and LP titled "LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER"
were both released in April of 1975. The single debuted on Billboards
Hot 100 on April 19, and catapulted from #98 to #1 in nine weeks, remaining
in the top position for a phenomenal four weeks. Eventually, it went on
to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Toni and Daryl also recorded
the song in Spanish, and it was released as a single later that year.
"Por Amor Viviremos" charted,
peaking at #49 on the Billboard pop charts in September, making it the
first #1 single ever to chart simultaneously in different languages by
the same artist. At the request of the label,Toni and Daryl recorded the
entire first LP in Spanish at the end of the year.
"The Way I Want To Touch You"
was released for its fourth time, now backed with LP cut "Broddy
Bounce," a musical tribute to their beloved pet bulldog,
Broderick. It was certified gold on December 17, 1975, establishing the
Captain & Tennille as one of the top acts of the year. No other singles
were released from the album, though it did contain the very first recording
of a Bruce Johnston offering titled "I Write
The Songs." Although it was not a hit for the Captain
& Tennille, the song was a #11 hit for David Cassidy in the UK in
the Summer of 1975 and became a Grammy-winning, #1 hit for Barry Manilow
in January of 1976.
Contrary to public perception, Toni and Daryl were not married until after
the success of their first LP. They were hitched in November of 1975 at
the Silver Queen Saloon Wedding Chapel in Virginia City, Nevada in a small
ceremony, with no guests or hoopla. "Wed been living together
since 1972" says Toni. "After we had the big hit, we thought
we should probably go ahead and get married, since everyone probably thought
we were already married, anyway."
A few months after the wedding came their second album, SONG OF
JOY. The first single released was another Neil Sedakapenned
tune called "Lonely Night (Angel Face)."
Revamping the somewhat soulful sounding original into a bouncy, pop tune,
the Captain & Tennille took the single to #3 on the pop charts in
March of 1976. They quickly followed up with an effervescent cover of
the Smokey Robinson hit "Shop Around."
"I heard Daryl playing this slow, classical piece" says Toni.
"I asked him, what is that? and he sped it up. I was
surprised to hear it was Shop Around." Toni now
recalls. "We decided it would be fun to do it from a womans
perspective, so thats how it ended up on the album." It became
their fourth gold single, topping out at #4 on the pop charts.
The third single released from Song of Joy was an unlikely number
called "Muskrat Love." Loved
and loathed, the revamped version of country composer/singer Willis Alan
Ramseys "Muskrat Candlelight"
was another million seller for the duo. "We were driving around one
night when we heard (the group) Americas version of the song on
the radio," remarks Toni. "I said to Daryl did you hear
that? I swear theyre singing about muskrats. I had to know
what the lyrics were, so the next day we went out and found the sheet
music" Toni reminisces. "I said to Daryl, this song is hysterical,
why dont we add it to our club-act? And people went nuts for it."
Daryl continues "We just threw it on the second album because we
had room for one more tune. We knew it was a hit in the clubs, but we
had no idea it would be a hit record." The label had no intention
of releasing a third single from the album, but after a radio station
in Madison, Wisconsin called the A&R people at A&M begging them
for a copy, telling them the phones were ringing off the hooks for it,
a 45 was issued and became their third biggest hit.
With three singles already circulating from the second album, A&M
halted plans to release "The Wedding Song"
backed with "Song Of Joy"
as the fourth single. Written by Paul Stookey of Peter Paul and Mary,
"The Wedding Song" was eventually released as a single
by popular demand, though much later. "Its a beautiful song"
Toni says, "and I cant tell you just how many people have come
to me over the years and told me they played it at their wedding."
Amid all the success came an opportunity to do a television series. It
debuted in September of 1976, at the height of the television variety
show craze. Pop groups Sonny and Cher, the Carpenters and Tony Orlando
and Dawn all had previous success with a series, and the family-friendly
Captain & Tennille fit the mold perfectly. The Captain & Tennille
Show featured "Love Will Keep Us Together" as its theme
song, and "We Never Really Say Goodbye"
as their closing theme. "Ive always been particularly proud
of the song," says Toni of their composition. "A lot of high
schools have made choral arrangements and used it in their graduations."
An appropriate connection, as the TV series was no less than a learning
experience for them.
Although the show was successful, it was an enormous amount of work, especially
for Daryl who was the shows music over-seer. "Because of union
rules in those days" Daryl says, "I had to go in and do the
music the day (or night) before we video-taped the show. It was exhausting.
I suggested that we rename the show, The Zombie and Tennille."
Which is pretty much how poor Daryl was portrayed on the show. "I
am shy" Daryl says. "So they made me the quiet one on the show.
But how many hat jokes or "hes-so-quiet" cute-comments
can you do?" The duo actually asked to be let out of the show mid-season,
though executive producer Fred Silverman was not ready to let go of the
hit show. As a compromise, they brought in Dick Clark as a producer and
made it more music oriented, where it had previously been sketch/comedy-heavy.
When the season ended, they took their bulldogs, Broderick and Elizabeth
(also regulars on the show), home and fulfilled the contract with a series
of television specials.
Their next album, COME IN FROM THE RAIN,
was released while the TV series was still on the air. The first single,
"Cant Stop Dancing"
benefited from the exposure. The Ray Stevens and J. Pritchard, Jr. track
was not one of their stronger offerings, though the perky two-stepper
peaked at #13 hit on the pop charts in May of 77. It was followed
up with the beautiful and torchy title track, "Come
In From the Rain," backed with "We
Never Really Say Goodbye." Although the Melissa Manchester./Carol
Bayer Sager penned ballad only made it to #61 on the pop charts, "Come
In From the Rain" came in at #6 on the Adult Contemporary charts,
and became a fan favorite, always heard as the encore number at the Captain
& Tennilles live shows. The third and final single released
from the album was Tonis exuberant love-poem to Daryl, "Circles,"
which hit big on the AC charts, while missing the then disco-saturated
The Captain & Tennille remained a popular live act, though their chart
success began to wane. Their fourth and final album of original material
for A&M, DREAM, was released
early in 1978, though it was eclipsed by the late-77 release of
their GREATEST HITS LP. The
first single from the album was "Im
On My Way," paired up with the previously released "We
Never Really Say Goodbye." It petered out at #74 on the pop charts
in May of 78, though was warmly received by the AC charts. Surprisingly,
the syncopated "Im On My Way" crossed over to the
Country charts, topping out at #97.
They had much greater success with the second single from Dream,
"You Never Done It Like That."
Another Sedaka/Greenfield composition, "You Never Done It Like
That" returned the Captain & Tennille to the top of the pops,
peaking at #10 in November of 1978, remaining on the charts for a total
of 21 weeks. The third single from the album, was a song brought to the
duo by Tonis sister, Jane, called "You
Need A Woman Tonight." It squeaked into the top 40, peaking
at #40 in January of 1979, while songs like "Le Freak" by Chic
and "Do Ya Think Im Sexy?" by Rod Stewart were dominating
Pop radio was undergoing a revolution in the late 70s. Pop and Rock
music were being eclipsed by Disco, and New Wave was a rising force as
the cutting edge alternative. A&M Records embraced the New Wave movement
with open arms, alienating many of their traditional artists, "I
had a conversation with Karen Carpenter out on the lot at A&M around
the time they signed the Sex Pistols" says Toni. "She was incensed
about the direction the label was going. We were the kind of music
that made the label, she said, and how could they do this?
"Then they gave the Sex Pistols a parking space, and we NEVER got
one," wryly adds Daryl. The writing was on the wall (& pavement
Neil Bogart at Casablanca Records welcomed the Captain and Tennille
with open arms, wanting to diversify the perceived all-disco image his
label had garnered. Before going into the studio, Daryl and Toni invited
Casablanca president, Bogart, over to dinner at their home, and played
some of the proposed material. When Toni played her composition "Do
That To Me One More Time" on her electric piano, Bogart
jumped to his feet and proclaimed it a hit right there on the spot. The
sultry ballad became their first single on their new label, and soon became
their second #1 hit the week of February 16, 1980. The follow-up single
from the MAKE YOUR MOVE LP,
"Love On A Shoestring" only
registered tepidly on the AC charts, though they surprisingly had success
with Daryls bizarre and theatrical disco arrangement of the old
Turtles hit "Happy Together."
Daryl and Toni laugh about that one today. "Did we really do that?"
Daryl contemplates. "I completely destroyed that song. It slipped
out of our live repertoire real fast."
Around the time they recorded the Casablanca album, Toni made a special
vocal appearance on Pink Floyds The Wall LP. ("My claim
to hipness" she says of it now.) It was not the first time she did
guest vocals, as she sang on Elton Johns "Dont Let
The Sun Go Down On Me" and on Art Garfunkels "Break Away"
LP. Her appearance on The Wall turned some heads, especially when Toni
turned up at a Pink Floyd concert in Los Angeles. "I went to see
the concert at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles." Toni says. "There
was a 15-year-old boy sitting in front of me who recognized me. He turned
around and snottily said What are YOU doing here? So I told
him I sang on the album. He ran off to find a friend who had brought the
LP to the show, and looked at the back to see if my name was really on
there. A few minutes later, he came back and apologetically said Can
I have your autograph?"
The second and final album for Casablanca was KEEPING
OUR LOVE WARM. It yielded two singles, though the chart
success was minor. An updated version of Tonis "Gentle
Stranger" (originally recorded on the album Love Will
Keep Us Together) backed with the title track was released as their first
single, though it did not register on the charts. A second single, "Dont
Forget Me," was also issued with "Keeping
Our Love Warm" on the flip side, though neither side charted.
The album did well enough, but it turned out to be their last major label
release. Sadly, Neil Bogart died, and the record company went bankrupt.
"We came to find out a lot of money went up peoples noses,"
Toni elaborates. "This is stuff we never knew was going on. We were
so straight, no one ever did any drugs in front of us or offered us any."
"We were at a party once," Daryl adds, "and people kept
going upstairs. We wondered what was going on up there, but for some reason,
we had no real 'urge' to find out."
Ultimately, Casablanca was bought-out by PolyGram, who wasnt interested
in keeping the Captain & Tennille on their roster. "The head
of CBS signed us, but six months later, he was fired and we became artists-non-grata"
says Toni of the situation. "We had lost so much momentum, that was
With the pressure off from a major label contract, Daryl Dragon and Toni
Tennille were afforded the luxury of mapping their own future. Toni began
recording albums of her favorite songs from the 30's 40's, and
performs this repertoire with symphony orchestras several times
a year. She also has kept up her other skills, hosting her own TV talk
show for a time and starring on stage in the First National Tour of the
Broadway musical, Victor/Victoria. As for the Captain & Tennille,
they now perform live "only on very special occasions," preferring
the quiet life at their Prescott, AZ home - in northern Arizona.
Still happily married, love has kept them together, and their music remains
a lasting legacy of beautifully crafted pop gold.
Keep 'up to date' with the Captain and Tennille
- as well as Toni at: www.captainandtennille.net / or - www.tonitennille.net
Learn more about Daryl's passion / ongoing internet project called...
- A website that Daryl envisions will - some day be THE home base or portal
for all those wishing to discover fresh, entertaining content, or expose
their own God-given talents to the world - whether in the field(s) of
music, in film-making, comedy, acting, education-oriented, any other entertainment-oriented
- - where the SURFER RULES his/her entertainment source, as well as content.
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1975, Grammy award winner, seventies music, '70s, 1970, Carpenters,
A&M, duo, duos, marriage