The mystery of why Daryl Hall obtained a restraining order against John Oates has been solved, at least in part, now that part of the case has been unsealed by a Tennessee judge who previously ordered all details to be kept under wraps. It’s now been revealed that Hall is attempting to block his longtime musical partner from selling his share in their joint venture to Primary Wave Music.
On Friday afternoon, the Associated Press was first to report the actual reason for the restraining order, after the judge quietly unsealed some — but not nearly all — of the case two days earlier, on Thanksgiving eve.
According to the AP report, what it is that Hall can’t go for is Oates’ desire to sell his share of the duo’s Whole Oats Enterprises to the investment firm, which already purchased a “significant” stake in their catalog rights 16 years ago. Hall has indicated that he regrets not owning all his publishing.
Chancellor Russell Perkins agreed to block Oates from making the sale for now, in response to the contention from Hall’s lawyers that such action appeared imminent, due to Oates’ team having signed a letter of intent with Primary Wave.
The next court hearing has been set for Nov. 30. That proceeding will happen well before the current restraining order would likely expire.
According to the AP report, Hall’s team says in the newly unsealed part of the lawsuit that Oates’ team let Primary Wave see the duo’s joint business agreement, which was to have remained confidential. As a result, “the entire Unauthorized Transaction is the product of an indisputable breach of contract,” Hall’s lawyers claim.
Arbitration between the two singers’ teams was instigated by Hall Nov. 9, but he nonetheless believed that Oates would immediately proceed with the sale to Primary Wave, the request for a restraining order indicated. The lawsuit indicated that an arbitrator had not even been agreed upon yet.
Parts of the lawsuit remain under seal, with the judge apparently agreeing with Hall’s attorneys that it contains details that are covered under the confidentiality agreement they say Oates breached in his dealings with Primary Wave.
Neither Hall’s nor Oates’ reps have responded to requests for comment since the restraining order became public. Variety has reached out for comment to Primary Wave, whose office is closed for the holiday weekend.
Back in February 2007, Primary Wave announced that it had acquired a “significant interest in the song catalog of Daryl Hall & John Oates.” The New York Post estimated the sale of a rumored half-interest in the catalog to Primary Wave at between $25-50 million for the duo. Soon after, the company also bought the copyrights for about 70 songs written by sisters Sara and Janna Allen, including their share of Hall and Oates smashes like “Maneater,” “You Make My Dreams” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”
At the time, 16 years ago, Hall was quoted in the Post as saying he had been eager to sell to Primary Wave after being unhappy with their previous publishing company. “I didn’t feel my catalog was being addressed properly by BMG,” Hall told the Post in 2007. “Most publishing companies are administrative rather than creative in nature. Larry (Mestel, the founder-CEO of Primary Wave has) got a lot of creative ideas about what to do with my material.”
By the time he did a 2021 interview with Sky News, Hall was on a tear about regrets over having sold his publishing, although he referred to “the early days,” so it wasn’t entirely clear whether he was talking about BMG, Primary Wave or another deal.
“Oh, in the early days, it got sold off for me and I didn’t get the money,” Hall said in the two-year-old interview. “I have a bit of my publishing, but a lot of bad business was done in the early days – I’m a real rock and roll story when it comes to that kind of thing. Never sell your publishing — maybe if you’re, you know, 80 years old and you decided to retire, then you can sell your publishing, but I wouldn’t even suggest it then, I don’t believe in that concept. It’s all you have is that.”
Hall and Oates have been on separate paths in the last year, with each doing solo tours that include individual efforts as well as some of their biggest hits as a duo. Hall has been on the road with opening act Todd Rundgren joining him toward the end of each night for some duets. Hall and Oates did spend two months touring together as recently as the fall of 2022, however.
Their last album together was 2006’s “Home for Christmas,” with their last joint collection of non-seasonal material having come before that in 2004. They announced plans to start in on a new album together several years ago, but those plans apparently fell by the wayside. Nonetheless, their occasional tours have been seen as big successes on the concert circuit, playing arenas and amphitheaters as big as the Hollywood Bowl just two years ago.