1977 The Captain And Tennille – Can’t Stop Dancing
Toni Tennille was born in Alabama, where her mother hosted a daily local television show. She studied classical piano and singing at Auburn University for two years. In 1959, her family moved to California, where she worked several different jobs not related to music. Toni married drummer Kenneth Shearer in 1962 (they divorced in 1972). She joined a theater company in the late sixties.
Daryl Dragon’s father was a conductor, composer, and arranger of music and his godfather was Danny Thomas. Daryl was a member of Charles Wright and the Wright Sounds beginning in 1962.
In 1967, a studio group had a #25 hit with the song Yellow Balloon. The record label put together a touring group that included Don Grady from My Three Sons, and Daryl also joined the group. He also began playing keyboards for the Beach Boys in 1967, and Mike Love gave him the nickname “Captain Keyboard.” Daryl started wearing a captain’s hat in performances to reflect that nickname.
In 1971, Toni wrote the music for the rock musical play Mother Earth, which eventually moved to Broadway. She met Daryl when he auditioned for the play.
Daryl worked as one of the studio musicians on the Beach Boys album Surf’s Up in 1971. The next year he co-wrote a song and scored and played keyboards on songs on their Carl and the Passions – “So Tough” album.
In 1972, Daryl introduced Toni to the Beach Boys, and they both joined the backup band for a Beach Boys tour. She sang backup vocals and played the electric piano while Daryl played keyboards. When the tour ended, the two began appearing and recording their own records as the Captain and Tennille.
Toni and Daryl got married in 1975. They paid to record a song Toni had written, The Way I Want to Touch You. Their single did well in the California area and led to a contract with A&M Records.
The first single A&M released for the group was a cover of a song that Neil Sedaka co-wrote, recorded with musicians from 10 CC, and released as a single in France in 1973: Love Will Keep Us Together. The song failed to chart but his label included it on his 1974 US compilation album, Sedaka’s Back. The Captain and Tennille single went to number one on the Hot 100 in 1975. They also recorded a Spanish version of the song that peaked at #49 on the Hot 100 that year.
Four more top-five singles followed from their first two albums. They hosted their own television variety show for six months beginning in the 1976 Fall season on ABC. They canceled their contract with ABC the next year so they could concentrate on their music and touring.
Their streak of major hits ended with the release of Can’t Stop Dancing in 1977. That single reached #13 on the Hot 100 and #12 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart. Four more singles failed to even reach the top forty, although they did reach the top ten again in 1978 with their single You Never Done It Like That.
Toni sang backup vocals for an Elton John album in 1974 and for Pink Floyd’s The Wall in 1979.
In 1979 the duo moved to Casablanca Records and recorded a new album, Make Your Move. The first single from the album, Do That to Me One More Time, was written by Toni and produced by Daryl. The single topped the Hot 100 in 1979 and reached #4 on the AC chart. The next two singles only reached into the fifties on the Hot 100.
Although they recorded a second album for Casablanca in 1980, none of their subsequent singles even reached the Hot 100 at all. They recorded another album in 1982 for Wizard Records but nobody seems to have noticed the single they released from the album.
The pair’s last studio album was a Christmas album released in 2007.
For the next twenty years, Toni sometimes appeared in concerts as a solo act while the pair also sometimes appeared as The Captain and Tennille.
Beginning in the Fall of 1980, Toni hosted her own television variety show. She also recorded two solo albums in the eighties and starred in the Broadway tour version of the play Victor/Victoria for about a year in 1998-1999.
Daryl began suffering from a neurological condition that caused severe tremors that prevented him from playing keyboards properly. The illness also appeared to affect his personality, and Toni filed for divorce in 2014. When it later became clear that a lot of Daryl’s problems resulted from incorrect medications, Toni helped him with his recovery treatments. She was with Daryl in the hospital when he died from kidney failure in 2019.
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