Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Captain & Tennille, The #51 Artist of the Seventies*

This couple met when Toni Tennille was overseeing the production of a musical she co-wrote called Mother Earth and Daryl Dragon was the keyboardist for the Beach Boys.  The musical was moving from San Francisco to Southern California, and Tennille needed a new keyboardist.  As Dragon was in between tours, he met Tennille in San Francisco and landed the gig.

Dragon then suggested to the Beach Boys that they hire Tennille as another keyboardist, and they did.  Tennille toured for one year with the famous group.  After the tour, Dragon & Tennille began performing as a duo at the Smokehouse Restaurant in Encino, California.  An early version of the song "The Way I Want To Touch You" began getting airplay in Los Angeles, which attracted the attention of executives at A&M Records.  Dragon (nicknamed The Captain) and Tennille signed a recording contract and began working on their debut album.  They also married on November 11, 1974.

The duo released the album Love Will Keep Us Together in 1975.  The title song, a cover of Neil Sedaka's song, was #1 for four weeks in the U.S. (also a #1 Adult song), and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.  It is still one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*

The single went Gold, and led the album to #2.  The follow-up was "The Way I Want To Touch You", which placed at #4 overall and #1 on the Adult chart.

The duo had made quite a name for themselves in one year.  The Captain & Tennille returned the following year with the album Song of Joy, which contained three more smash singles.  They were on quite a roll with adults, scoring their third straight #1 with another Sedaka song, "Lonely Night (Angel Face)"--it peaked at #3 overall.

C & T's remake of the Miracles song "Shop Around" made it up to #4 on the Popular chart and gave them four #1's in a row on the Adult chart.

Another remake was next--tough to do covers, but in this case, the Captain & Tennille improved on the original by America, taking "Muskrat Love" to #4.  And they scored their fifth straight #1 on the Adult chart with their first five singles.

In July of 1976, the couple were invited by Betty Ford, First Lady of the United States, to perform in the East Room of the White House to an audience of President Gerald Ford and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

Simply put, they were one of the hottest acts in the world, which led to their own television variety show on ABC.  But even though the show had solid ratings, the Captain & Tennille asked to be released from their contract after one year so they could focus on recording and touring.

The duo released their third album Come in from the Rain in 1977.  The lead single was "Can't Stop Dancing" reached #12 on the Adult chart and #13 overall.

While the title song stalled at #61, most radio stations missed out.  Adult stations were at this time starting to take over from the traditional Top 40 stations because they had a better handle on what the aging population liked.  The peak for "Come In From The Rain" on the Adult chart (#8) was significantly different than the #61 on the Popular chart, the result of which Top 40 stations soon saw in declining ratings.

The duo released "Circles" as the third single, and it hit #9 on the Adult chart.

The following year, the Captain & Tennille released their Greatest Hits album.  They then released the album Dream, which yielded the #6 Adult Contemporary hit "I'm On My Way".

The duo released another Sedaka cover, "You Never Done It Like That", which gave them another Top 10 hit at #10.

In 1979, the Captain & Tennille switched to Casblanca Records, and released the album Make Your Move.  The first single "Do That To Me One More Time", landed at #4 on the AC chart and gave the duo their second overall #1 song. 

The duo quit while they were ahead, although they did continue to perform shows in Lake Tahoe for years.  They sold over six million records in the U.S. alone in the Seventies.  Out of their 12 hits, seven were Top 10's, and many of those huge hits, along with two #1 songs.  Among adults (most of the population), they were even stronger:  12 hits in the decade with 9 Top 10 songs and five #1's.

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