Despite the disparaging remarks of contemporary music critics, the middle-of-the-road pop stylings of Captain & Tennille made them one of the most successful pop duos of the 70s, racking up an impressive five gold albums, six gold singles, two platinum albums and a platinum single. It’s no wonder we see their likenesses used and parodied in media today. They meant something.
Daryl Dragon (“The Captain”) and Toni Tennille (uhh, “Tennille”) both came from 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 had been performing as a keyboardist for 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. They toured with them for one season, then left for Los Angeles to perform as a duo. Billed as ‘The Dragons’ they built a regular audience 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 decent amount of radio play, and it was soon purchased by A&M Records, who also signed Captain & Tennille to a recording contract. They were viewed as a slightly harder-rocking and just a bit sexier version of The Carpenters (who were siblings, so “sexier” stands to reason.) For their next single, they covered Neil Sedaka’s “Love Will Keep Us Together.” The song became a number one hit, 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 given their own television 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.
In recent years, the Captain and Tennille have mostly stayed out of the limelight, but there have been a few exceptions. Besides the occasional live performance, they released their old television show on DVD, along with recording a Christmas album in 2006. That same year, the contributed their voices and music to a Cartoon Network special called, Casper’s Scare School. For the most part, however, they prefer each others company in the comforts of their own home, demonstrating as they always have that love really can 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.