Following a triumphant Hall and Oates concert at Quicken Loans Arena the previous evening a relaxed and amiable John Oates made his appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a 1 p.m. interview, acoustic performance and book signing. His memoir, “Change of Seasons” hit the shelves in April and John has taken time during the tour to promote the book.
The title comes from Hall and Oates 14th studio album of the same name that was released just prior to their break-up in 1990. The memoir came about when writer Chris Epting approached Oates with an idea of collaborating on a book. John promptly told Epting about his collection of handwritten personal journals in his attic and work began.
The book tells the life and career in John’s own words and includes a 5 track companion CD of original and traditional songs (including a live version of “Maneater”) designed to reflect the various stories found in the book. Oates was a journalist major at Temple University in Philadelphia when he met Daryl Hall. Over a period of ten years (beginning when he graduated from college), Oates kept a series of had written journals detailing the duo’s rapid climb to stardom, his reinventing of his life after the fame and the overcoming of personal, financial and professional challenges.
The interview was conducted by Dr. Jason Hanley (vice President of Education and Visitor Engagement at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio) and was held in the intimate Foster Theater.
It was a treat for audience members as John told of growing up as the only son and grand-son of an Italian immigrant family that made him an instant star at birth. He told of his strong family ties that began to become unraveled as the fame and demands increased. He admitted that while touring he acted anything but married and how this added to the estrangement with his first wife.
During the discussion, Oates revealed after his breakup with Daryl he found himself nine million dollars in debt, divorced and at the end of what was billed as “…the most successful duo of the rock era” by Billboard Magazine. In effect, John found himself free and adrift.
Rather than dive straight into a new career, John sold all of his possessions except his condo in Aspen, Colorado where he retreated to get his life together again. He met his second wife, Aimee and settled down to raise their son, Tanner. In 2002 he embarked on a solo career that resulted in five albums. Lately, he and Daryl Hall have reunited for a tour that has them criss-crossing the United States and Canada before their final shows of the tour in Dublin, Ireland and London, England in late October.
Following the interview the audience members were allowed to ask questions to which John gave honest and sometimes funny answers. When asked the story behind a particular song he admitted, “I don’t know. I think it’s about a girl…and romance…and some other stuff, but I really don’t remember too much.” It was evident during the afternoon that John is an avid student of music having taken lessons from the age of five through most of his life.
After the Q&A, John took a seat on a stool with his acoustic guitar and sang a number of personal favorites that reflect his folk and blues roots and showed his true love of entertaining just for the sake of entertaining. With this portion of the program finished, audience members were ushered out of the theater to the downstairs’ main stage where the book signing was held. In spite of the size of the crowd, John took time to talk with each and every person who had purchased his book prior to the event.
On stage, in print and in person, John reveals himself to be a self-effacing nice guy who appreciates the experience of the whirlwind of fame but enjoys the quieter and more intimate exchanges with fans. He’s the kind of guy you would not mind having a beer with at a local bar.