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Hall & Oates have a number of iconic music videos (I see you "Private Eyes") but looming large is their 1973 video for "She's Gone" which was truly experimental. John Oates recently recalled to Yahoo Entertainment the origins of the concept and how it went viral in the age of YouTube.
"It is absolutely my favorite [music video]," Oates said. "We just thought it was the most hysterical thing we'd ever done. And so to this day, I think it's really a work of performance art in a sense."
Watch more from John Oates's video interview in the clip above.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Hi, John. I'm very excited to interview you. I hope you don't think I'm lame, but I had to wear these. Because when else am I going to have the opportunity to wear.
JOHN OATES: Oh, that's so cool.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I thought you'd app-- I was like, is it going to be weird if I wear my John Oates earring to the John Oates interview. But I figured I'd just go for it.
JOHN OATES: You know, I think you made a good choice. After all this time, nothing is too weird for me.
LYNDSEY PARKER: There's so much I want to talk about, but we'll start with the serious stuff and obviously the most important stuff which is the Oates Song Fest event you're doing for Feeding America. It's big all-star concert for, obviously, a very worthy cause. Well, John, if you would indulge me for a moment, you said nothing can get too weird. I've been waiting forever to ask you about the "She's Gone" music video. It's my understanding, quite rightfully so, that it is your favorite music video that you guys ever did.
JOHN OATES: I can't speak for Daryl, but I'll speak for myself. Yes, it is absolutely my favorite. You know what, do you want to hear the backstory on that one?
LYNDSEY PARKER: Yes!
JOHN OATES: Bring it. All right.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Bring it on.
JOHN OATES: What happened, we have to, you have to put yourself in the context of the time. It was 1973. There was no MTV. There were no, really no music videos being played, a few. What happened was there was a teenage dance show. We had done the "Abandoned Luncheonette" album, our single was "She's Gone." There was a teenage dance show at, in Atlantic City New Jersey at the Steel Pier. They wanted us to go on and lip sync our hit single "She's Gone." And we were like, we can't lip sync "She's Gone" for teenage dancing. It just didn't compute.
So one night, I'm sitting in our apartment that we were sharing in New York City, Daryl and I said, let's just do something crazy. Let's take our furniture from our apartment. My sister was a film student at Temple University. The girl you see walking across the video is Sarah from Sarah Smile. And the devil, the guy in the devil suit, is our tour manager, Randy Hoffman, who is now John Mellencamp's tour manager.
Anyway, so we brought our little team down to Philadelphia, and we showed up at the local television station. And they fully expected us to show up and pretend to sing our song, and we showed up with chairs and props and all this stuff, bathrobes, and blah blah blah. And they didn't know what to make of us. And they thought we were mocking them, and they got really pissed off. The union crew, the cameramen and all, they were like, and so here is this 20-year-old girl who's a film student with a script that we had all written together.
LYNDSEY PARKER: It was a script? Do you still have the script?
JOHN OATES: No, maybe my sister has it.
LYNDSEY PARKER: It belongs in a museum.
JOHN OATES: But so she walks into the control room, and they're like, oh what is happening here. And she starts telling these guys what we're doing. So we proceed to do what we've, and if you haven't seen it, I guess you need to see it before we can, you'll know what we're talking about.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Everybody, pause, pause. Go watch it, come back.
JOHN OATES: And come back.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Because it's hard to explain.
JOHN OATES: And just from my point of view, I was wearing a rented penguin suit that had flippers instead of hands. And Daryl's wearing a black bathrobe. And so anyway, so we did the video, and they hit the ceiling. They were so-- they thought we were mocking them. They thought, who are these stupid young hippies who are doing this thing, right. And they refused to play it. They did not play it on the show. And they called our record company, and they said, they're going to ban us from Philadelphia radio. They would never play us again. Your careers are over.
Oh, it was a big deal. And our record company was like, what did you guys do, you ruined your-- you know. And we were laughing all the way. I mean, we just thought it was the most hysterical thing we'd ever done. And so to this day, I think it's really a work of performance art in a sense.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Do you still have the penguin outfit? That belongs in a museum, too.
JOHN OATES: Yeah, you're right. I wish I had it. We rented it from some costume store in New York City.
LYNDSEY PARKER: It was kind of like if I pull my sleeves down.
JOHN OATES: Yeah, that's right.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I actually didn't plan to wear a shirt with long sleeves, but yeah. You had like long sleeves and you're like playing there.
JOHN OATES: Well, they were, they ended in big flippers. So when I did the guitar solo, I just went like this. And the flippers wrapped around the guitar neck.
LYNDSEY PARKER: You literally look like this.
JOHN OATES: Thank you, yes. Yes.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Did you do that in one take? How many takes did you do of the "She's Gone" video?
JOHN OATES: Oh, that was one take, absolutely. They kicked us out. They literally kicked us out of the television studio. They hated us.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So it did not air at that time. My recollection is that even though so many other of your videos were on MTV in the '80s, I do not recall them playing "She's Gone," not even when they were doing their classic rock flashback. When did people finally get to see this? Did they see it in '73 or was it not until many years later?
JOHN OATES: No, no one ever saw it for the entire decade of the '70s. It wasn't until YouTube began that we actually said, you know we've got to post this thing. I always had a copy of it. So once there was a platform for us to put things up, the first thing I said was, we've got to get the "She's Gone" video out into the world.
LYNDSEY PARKER: So you're the one that leaked it or posted it. It was you.
JOHN OATES: I don't know. Sure, I'll take credit for it.
LYNDSEY PARKER: You should.
JOHN OATES: No, probably not. But, you know.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I think it inspired "Between Two Ferns." It looks like that.
JOHN OATES: I hope so. I hope it inspired anything.
LYNDSEY PARKER: By the time it came out, it was in this world of viral videos and homemade videos. It was very ahead of its time. Now people would get it.
JOHN OATES: I'm glad we were ahead of our time in a sense, in one way. The people who get it, love it, and the people who don't, I guess they just don't.
LYNDSEY PARKER: They're wrong.
JOHN OATES: I don't know what else to say.
LYNDSEY PARKER: It's pretty, was pretty punk rock thing to do.
JOHN OATES: A pretty punk rock actually, but yeah.
LYNDSEY PARKER: I feel like you should recreate it with some all-stars on the Song Fest thing. Get the chairs, rent the penguin suit.
JOHN OATES: You know, maybe one of these days Daryl and I will revisit the idea. You never know.
LYNDSEY PARKER: If you did that on stage--
JOHN OATES: But it was a moment in time. It's a moment in time. And you sometimes, you just can't recapture stuff like that.
LYNDSEY PARKER: But what else, in all seriousness, can we expect from the event?
JOHN OATES: I've got an EDM version of "Maneater," coming out on Friday the 19.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Hold the phone, what?
JOHN OATES: Oh yeah. I've-- exclusive, exclusive!
LYNDSEY PARKER: I'm so excited.
JOHN OATES: It's a collaboration with Saxsquatch.
LYNDSEY PARKER: What?
JOHN OATES: Yes.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Oh my God, how exciting.
JOHN OATES: So Saxsquatch and I have done an EDM version of "Maneater." It's going to be in the song festival as well. But it's being released by Monstercat on Friday, March 19 as a standalone EDM single. And it's amazing if I do say so myself.
What happened was my wife introduced me to Saxsquatch on Instagram. And we began, we became obsessed with watching his videos. And then we began-- we reached out to him, and we talked about doing a collab. And we did "Maneater," and it came out so good that we decided, I asked him if he would co-host the song festival with me.
So Saxsquatch and I are co-hosting the Song Fest on March 20. And we have some very, very enter-- let's put it this way, entertaining interludes in between the performances. I can't wait for you to see the video for the EDM "Man--," wait till you see the video.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Very cool. So the event that's happening, the Oates Song Fest on March 20, we've already established there's going to be the premiere of the EDM "Maneater."
JOHN OATES: Yep.
LYNDSEY PARKER: And a recreation of the "She's Gone" video with special guests.
JOHN OATES: Not quite, not quite. I know--
LYNDSEY PARKER: Maybe next year's.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Yes, yes, next year.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Give you time to plan. It's hard to find penguin suits this time of year. I understand.
JOHN OATES: We have to prepare for this. It's not something you just roll out.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Well, you've always been ahead of your time video-wise as I've well established from the thread that came through the video. So I'm sure everything you do is going to be visually dazzling and also for a great cause. And people can check it out on nugs dot-- Tell all the details.
JOHN OATES: Nugs.tv.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Nugs.tv.
JOHN OATES: And by the way, we ought to-- I think it's important to say that it's totally free. This is not a pay per view show. This is totally free. Anyone, we want everyone to be able to watch it with no restrictions. And we just hope that people will donate and feel compelled and moved enough to help Feeding America.
LYNDSEY PARKER: Well how could they not after speaking with you, such a wonderful interview.
JOHN OATES: Well, thanks.
LYNDSEY PARKER: And if they watch this, they'll be opening the wallet. So thank you so much for indulging me with all my fashion choices and silly questions.
JOHN OATES: If you flatter your guests right from the beginning, how can we go wrong.