Captain and Tennille

Captain and Tennille

She had the voice of an angel, he was the silent keyboardist with the sailor’s cap. Together, they were The Captain and Tennille and they racked up an impressive collection of gold and platinum recordings throughout the 70s, reminding us along the way that it was love that kept them together.

Daryl Dragon (“The Captain”) and Toni Tennille (uhh, “Tennille”) both had formal musical backgrounds. They met in 1971 after Tennille hired Dragon as a musician for the production of a musical she had written called Mother Earth. At the time Dragon, the son of a symphony conductor, was performing as a keyboardist with The Beach Boys, where he’d earned the nickname “Captain” for always wearing a yachting cap onstage.

After Mother Earth closed, Daryl asked Tennille to join The Beach Boys as their only female member. The couple toured with the 60s group for one season, then left for Los Angeles to try their hand as a duo. Billed as ‘The Dragons’ they built a loyal following and soon financed the release of their first single as Captain & Tennille, “The Way I Want To Touch You,” on their own label, Butterscotch Castle Records.

That single got a respectable amount of radio play, leading to its purchase by A&M Records, who also signed Captain & Tennille to a recording contract. They were viewed as an edgier, just a bit sultrier version of The Carpenters (who were siblings, so “sultry” wasn’t part of the equation).

For their next single, they covered Neil Sedaka’s “Love Will Keep Us Together.” The song became a number-one hit overnight, went gold and launched Captain & Tennille’s pop music career. It stayed at the top of the charts in 1975, and won the Grammy award for Record of the Year (which also gave Sedaka his first Grammy). They closed the year by marrying one another in November.

Over the next few years they would release a string of hits including “Lonely Night (Angel Face),” “Shop Around,” “Muskrat Love,” and “You Never Done It Like That.” With their growing popularity, “The Way I Want To Touch You” was re-released for a third time. They were also rewarded with their own television variety show, which lasted just one season.

Captain & Tennille left A&M Records when the rise of punk hit the scene. They started off with a bang on their Casablanca label debut, Make Your Move, which featured the hit single “Do That To Me One More Time.” After a move to CBS records and a few moderately successful albums, Captain & Tennille hung up their hats as a recording duo. Tennille went on to a solo career, and performed the lead role in the stage version of Victor/Victoria in 1998.

Into the new millenium, the Captain and Tennille kept a lower profile. They performed occasionally and released their television show on DVD. They also released a Christmas album and lent their voices and music to a Cartoon Network special called Casper’s Scare School.

We would love to report a happy ending for these once amorous muskrats, but the truth is a bit more melancholy. Daryl Dragon was diagnosed with a neurological condition, similar to Parkinson’s, in 2010 that affected his ability to play keyboards. Four years later, it was announced that Tennille filed for divorce after 39 years of marriage – shocking and saddening their loyal fan base to no end. Love, as it turns out, can’t always keep you together.

If you were a fan of this familiar music duo from the 70s, we welcome all of your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our captain’s cap to this lovable pair of performers, here at Retroland.

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