Too Much Fiber

For my entire life, I have been a huge Hall & Oates fan. That’s why it was a dream come true when my sister got me tickets to see them in concert in Milwaukee two years ago.

John Oates and Daryl Hall met while attending Temple University in Philadelphia. They released their first album in 1972, and have since sold over 80 million records worldwide, making them the most successful duo in rock history. They have been inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

That’s why it broke my heart when I heard that after being together for over 50 years, Daryl Hall sued John Oates. To quote their 1983 hit, ‘Say It Isn’t So.’

On November 16, Hall, 77, filed for a restraining order against Oates, 75, as well as John’s wife Aimee Oates and Richard Flynn, who are the co-trustees of the John W. Oates TISA Trust. Oates, a resident of Nashville, created a trust under the Tennessee Investment Services Act of 2007 (TISA), which many artists do to protect assets from future lawsuits or creditors.

The order, which was granted the next day, aimed to prevent Oates’ alleged plan to sell his share of Whole Oats Enterprises LLP (WOE), a limited liability partnership owned and controlled by the musicians, and named after their debut album. Hall asserted that if the sale went through, it would violate their partnership agreement that was entered into in October of 2021, about a month after I saw them in concert.

Oates was attempting to sell his interest in WOE to Primary Wave Music Publishing without Hall’s consent, a transaction he claims is “unauthorized and void” and a breach of their contract. Hall alleged that Oates had entered into a letter of intent with Primary Wave that could’ve closed as early as Nov. 20, and Hall argued that the sale would cause him “imminent irreparable harm.”

In 2006, Primary Wave was put on the map after founder Lawrence Mestel purchased 50% of Kurt Cobain’s portion of the Nirvana song catalog. The outfit owns the publishing catalogs of Chicago, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, John Lennon, Def Leppard, Smokey Robinson, Bob Marley, Alice Cooper, Culture Club, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. They own the copyrights to over 15,000 songs, including tunes from The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Prince.

Primary Wave also owns “significant interest” in the Hall & Oates song catalogue. Hall alleged in court documents that he sought the restraining order against Oates to prevent the sale “so as to maintain the status quo of WOE before there is a change in control of the partnership in violation of the terms of the Agreement.”

According to Hall’s attorneys, the matter should remain under seal because it is a “private dispute… This is not a matter of legitimate public interest, although the parties are well known.” According to the complaint, the case will ultimately be decided in a confidential arbitration process.

While I’m so sad to hear about this, I should have seen it coming. In a September 2022 appearance on the Club Random podcast with Bill Maher, Hall referred to Oates as his “business partner,” but “he’s not my creative partner.” He continued saying, “John and I are brothers, but we are not creative brothers. We are business partners. We made records called Hall & Oates together, but we’ve always been very separate, and that’s a really important thing for me.”

Technically, they haven’t broken up, which is good. If they did, I would have to say, “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).”

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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