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Famed Duo Hall and Oates Clash Over Accusation of 'Ultimate Partnership Betrayal'
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By Associated Press
Published 5 months ago on
November 30, 2023

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Daryl Hall has accused his longtime music partner John Oates of committing the “ultimate partnership betrayal” by planning to sell his share of the Hall & Oates duo’s joint venture without the other’s permission, Hall said in a court declaration supporting his lawsuit to keep the transaction paused.

In the declaration filed Wednesday in a Nashville chancery court, Hall also lamented the deterioration of his relationship with and trust in his musical partner of more than a half-century. The joint venture in question includes Hall & Oates trademarks, personal name and likeness rights, record royalty income and website and social media assets, the declaration states.

In his own court filing later Wednesday, Oates said that he was disappointed in Hall’s “inflammatory, outlandish, and inaccurate statements about me,” and argued that he had been trying for some time to enhance their business partnership.

A judge has issued a temporarily restraining order blocking the sale of Oates’ share of Whole Oats Enterprises LLP to Primary Wave IP Investment Management LLC while legal proceedings and a previously initiated arbitration continue.

A court hearing is scheduled Thursday in the case. Hall is seeking further court action to keep the transaction on hold.

“While falsely contending over the last several months that the Oates Trust wanted to maintain ownership in WOE, John Oates and the Co-Trustees engaged in the ultimate partnership betrayal,” Hall said in a declaration. “They surreptitiously sought to sell half of the WOE assets without obtaining my written approval.”

Oates argued in his filings that the court should not extend the temporary restraining order, and he said he didn’t want to publicly address details of business dealings that he considers “private matters.” But in a rejoinder to the suggestion that he was the one causing a rift, he argued that Hall has been trying for years to be seen as an individual.

“Over the years, Daryl has consistently and publicly been adamant about being perceived as an individual rather than as part of a duo or group. Thus, he has insisted on our being known as ‘Daryl Hall and John Oates,’ rather than the more commonly known ‘Hall & Oates,’” Oates’ declaration said. “On this point I agree. I now must act with truthfulness and make decisions that are right for myself, my family, and my artistic future.”

A Nashville chancery court judge issued the temporary restraining order on Nov. 16, the same day Hall filed his lawsuit, writing that Oates and others involved in his trust can’t move to close the sale of their share until an arbitrator in a separately filed case weighs in on the deal, or until the judge’s order expires — typically within 15 days, unless a judge extends the deadline. Hall’s declaration was initially filed in the arbitration case.

The lawsuit contends that Hall opened an arbitration process on Nov. 9 against Oates and the other defendants in the lawsuit, Oates’ wife, Aimee Oates, and Richard Flynn, in their roles as co-trustees of Oates’ trust. Hall was seeking an order preventing them from selling their part in Whole Oats Enterprises to Primary Wave Music.

Primary Wave has already owned “significant interest” in Hall and Oates’ song catalog for more than 15 years.

The lawsuit says Oates’ team entered into a letter of intent with Primary Wave Music for the sale, and alleges further that the letter makes clear that the music duo’s business agreement was disclosed to Primary Wave Music in violation of a confidentiality provision. Additionally, Hall said in his declaration he would not approve such a sale and doesn’t agree with Primary Wave’s business model.

Hall Says He Was Blindsided

Hall said he was blindsided by Oates’ plan to sell his part of Whole Oates Enterprises.

“I am deeply troubled by the deterioration of my relationship with, and trust in, John Oates,” Hall said in the declaration.

Hall said in his declaration that the ordeal has unfolded while he’s been on tour throughout the U.S. West Coast, Japan and Manila. Hall said he believes Oates timed the sale “to create the most harm to me.”

Hall accused Oates of becoming “adversarial and aggressive instead of professional and courteous” toward him in the last several years. As part of a proposed “global divorce,” Hall said he was entertaining Oates’ idea to dissolve their touring entity and a separate partnership related to their musical compositions and publishing, while Hall raised the idea of dissolving Whole Oats Enterprises.

Daryl Hall and John Oates got their start as Temple University students before signing with Atlantic Records in 1972. In the decades since, they have achieved six platinum albums and many more Top 10 singles with their unique approach to blue-eyed soul. Hall & Oates was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and the duo’s latest album, “Home for Christmas,” was released in 2006. The pair continued to perform as of last year.

“We have this incredibly good problem of having so many hits,” Oates told The Associated Press in 2021, just before resuming a national tour that had been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Believe me, it’s not a chore to play those songs because they are really great.”

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