The Captain & Tennille
With Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2001; Noon EDT
They won a Grammy for "Love Will Keep Us Together" in 1975 and celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last November. The Captain & Tennille had a string of pop singles which earned them five gold albums, six gold singles, two platinum albums and one platinum single. The husband and wife team created a distinctive brand of pop music combining Toni Tennille's vocals with keyboard arrangements by Daryl Dragon.
The Captain & Tennille will be online Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Noon EDT, to talk about their life on the pop music trail.
Tennille returned home to northern Nevada from a one-year road tour of "Victor/Victoria" on June 29, 1999, and after a few months she decided she didn't want to tour anymore. "I've always been a real homebody," says Tennille on her Web site. However, she has continued her singing career and has been performing the music of the great American composers with symphony orchestras. She only takes engagements away from home a few days at a time. Dragon sometimes joins her on stage for a "special appearance." He has many of his own projects which he does for the Internet, one of which is to help young artists develop their music and creative ambitions.
A transcript follows.
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over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Captain & Tennille: TT: Well, hello out there to all of you in the Washington Post Internet Chat Room. Daryl and I are here in beautiful northern Nevada on a gorgeous August morning, very pleased to answer as many of your questions as we can.
I think that you and I were both born in Birmingham and I've read that you now live in Carson City, Nev. Do you see a similarity between the life in Carson City and your life as a girl in Alabama? I see a great similarity, even down to the all night K Mart. Thanks for so many great memories.
Captain & Tennille: TT: Actually, I was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and moved to California in the early 1960's. Daryl and I now live in Washoe Valley, Nevada, near Lake Tahoe. We love it here, mainly because it is very much a "small town". The similarities to the south seem to be the nice folks who live around here.
So, has "love kept you together" after all these years?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Love has indeed kept us together, but also two bathrooms have helped! Daryl and I have always given each other a lot of "room" in our relationship.
Any chance for a one-time TV show-concert performance to perform your many hits? "Love Will Keep Us Together" brings back such fond 70's memories. Also, Captain, how is your "bro" Dennis? He had a pretty fair band himself with the legendary Surf Punks.
Captain & Tennille: DD: Hey. Re: a TV show: Well, if you personally call ABC TV, and guarantee that the price of the show will be under $9.95, you can probably talk them into it. The problem is, today, Networks can get the same 'value for the buck' by airing Jerry Springer. Hmmmm!
Re: My brother Dennis: He's presently living in Missouri. I don't know how he can deal with that, since his group was called 'THE SURF PUNKS'. Dennis has two "new" kids, and sounds like he's havin' a ball. He'd have it NO OTHER WAY ...
Glad you've enjoyed Dennis. Try to find him on the net.
Tennille: Did you really go to Auburn, and what was your major?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Dear Paris....Yes, I did go to Auburn. I majored in English and minored in Music. By the way, I am going to Paris in the fall to meet my sister there for a week. Any suggestions for restaurants, etc.?
I remember meeting you both backstage at your concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. I was five years old (1976) and I think it was the summer. I was so shy then and you both were so nice and made me feel comfortable -- especially when I found out the Captain was shy also. Thanks for a great childhood memory!
Captain & Tennille: TT: Thank you for the Merriweather Post memory. I think it was very hot, so it must have been summer! I'm so glad we are a part of the good things you remember from your childhood.
Good afternoon! Toni, I just saw you on a rerun of "Love Boat" on TV Land last night, and thought you were terrific in your role as a love interest to Robert Reed. Just wondering if you have any particular memories about him or any of the "Love Boat" cast members? And what do you consider your favorite acting job?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Yes, I definitely remember that particular LOVE BOAT. Daryl really didn't want me to kiss anyone in a TV show (or anywhere else for that matter). The producers were insisting that the kiss was necessary to the story. I was on the phone with Daryl several times before he okayed it! Robert Reed was a true gentleman, and as nice as he could be!
DD: Insert: Yes, I did have a problem with that KISS!, but the big problem came when Toni toured with a musical called 'VICTOR/VICTORIA', where she had to kiss THIS GUY every night for NINE MONTHS!
Whoops, Toni reminded me, it was TEN MONTHS!
I just wanted to say that I am and will always be a HUGE Captain and Tennille fan.
While my brothers walked around with Noxema on their faces to look like KISS, I, at the precocious age of 6, demanded my mother to cut my hair like Toni Tennille.
All of my sisters and brothers still sing "Going Bananas" from your Song of Joy album. Thanks for the memories!
Captain & Tennille: TT: Dear Springfield ... I went to a KISS concert in the late 70's, and thought they were great! I don't have that "Tennille" haircut any more, but I have met so many little girls over the years who had their hair cut just like mine. I think people are always disappointed when they see my very short hair now.
What was Muskrat Love all about?
Captain & Tennille: TT: I have no idea what MUSKRAT LOVE was all about! Actually, I think it can be about whatever you think. You should ask the composer, Willis Alan Ramsey. Actually, I always thought the song was a hoot, and could never understand what all the fuss was about. People either seem to love it or loathe it. Daryl and I will be performing it this September in Reno with full symphony orchestra! Visit tonitennille.net to find out more!
Looking through the liner notes of The Wall many years ago I saw your name (or someone else with your name). Given your style of music, and Pink Floyd's, how did you end up with that gig? What was it like working with Mr. Waters et. al?
Captain & Tennille: TT: I got a call one day from Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. He and I and Carl Wilson used to do background vocals whenever we were all in town together. Bruce asked me if I would consider doing a BG session for Pink Floyd. I immediately said yes, although I was not really familiar with their music. The session turned out to be a fabulous experience. Dave Gilmore greeted at the door on the Sunday morning of the session saying, "I just saw you and Daryl on television". I thought, "What in the world was he watching on a Sunday morning." he told me he had been watching KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO ... a kid's show, with his children, and we were the special guests! So much for the rock star image. He and Roger Waters were great!
Do you plan to record together again?
Captain & Tennille: TT: We really have no plans to record together at this time. The truth is, there is no outlet for our music on radio right now, so there isn't much incentive to write or record. If they ever start up an Adult Contemporary radio network, we'd be back in the studio!
Hello! I am a big fan!
What's the story behind calling yourselves "Captain" and Tennille?
Thanks for so many great memories!
Captain & Tennille: DD: AH, 'Tthe Captain gets to type ...
The Story behind how we named ourselves "CAPTAIN & TENNILLE," is really quite simple. We were gonna call ourselves "Daryl and Toni," but there already was a Sonny & Cher, Donny and Marie, etc. ... so, THERE WAS NO "Captain" yet, except for BEEFHEART, and KANGAROO ...
We also decided that "Tennille" was cool. So ... we used Toni's maiden name.
THE CAPTAIN ... came about, simply because I often wore a Captain's Hat when I played keyboards for the Beach Boys for six or so years. I wore a captain's hat on stage with them, and they often (Mike Love) introduced me as 'The Captain'. What a story ..!
Any plans to go on tour soon? I'd love to come see you perform songs old & new!
Captain & Tennille: TT: Daryl and I will be appearing together on September 15th in Reno in a concert to benefit Nevada Opera, a favorite organization of ours. I will do the first part of the show, singing the kind of songs on my new CD, INCURABLY ROMANTIC. I'll be performing with a 72-piece orchestra. After intermission, Daryl will join me for some Captain & Tennille songs! You should think about flying out here for the show ... gorgeous weather, beautiful mountains, hiking, golf, a little gambling perhaps ... and, what I think is going to be a wonderful concert. Call the Nevada Opera office in Reno for details!
To Toni: Why do you like performing the American standards?
Captain & Tennille: TT: My father, Frank Tennille, was a Big Band singer in the late 1930's. He raised me on the great music of performers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, etc. I grew to love those songs. They are so beautifully constructed ... the lyrics and melody lines are so well crafted. There is usually a "subtext" in every lyric, so it can be a challenge to give the songs their due! I'm a writer, too ... DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME, etc., but I just can't put myself anywhere NEAR the Johnny Mercers or Harold Arlens of the songwriting world.
How long did you tour with the Beach Boys? What was that like?
Captain & Tennille: DD: Re: Beach Boy touring: I started with them in 1968, and "lasted" thru their "struggling years" which was thru '72. Funny thing though: As soon as I left the 'Boyz' for Toni ... where we were making $15.00 per night in local clubs, the 'BOYZ' took off ! (Whoops, Toni says I should spell it "BOYS"). Anyway ... they got along without me, although they did ask me to be an official "Beach Boy." I told them I could make more money with my wife, Toni ... in local clubs. ($) Hah ... just kidding.
Why did you decide to include the line "Sedaka is back" at the end of "Love Will Keep Us Together??
Neil was back -- very briefly.
Captain & Tennille: TT: While we were rehearsing LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER in the studio, we were having so much fun with the tune, the words "Sedaka in back" just popped out during rehearsal. We were so grateful to have found the tune, we felt Neil should get some credit. He is a fine songwriter. We decided to put that phrase in the final mix. I must also mention Howard Greenfield, who wrote those great lyrics!
Tell us about Incurably Romantic from both your points of view. (I know Daryl produced it.)
Captain & Tennille: TT: Thank you for asking about INCURABLY ROMANTIC. I wanted to do a collection of songs that I really love, and I wanted to do it in the simplest, most elegant way possible. That, to me, meant just piano and voice. I wanted the listener to have a quiet, calm, loving and romantic experience. I guess, in a way, it was a response to all the overproduced, loud, in your face things that are on the radio now. I wanted to do something intimate, so the listener would feel I was singing directly to him or her, not "at" them. I have to be sure to mention that this CD would not have turned out the way I wanted it without the brilliant Kathy Rubbicco at the piano. She and I are "joined at the heart" when we make music together.
DD: Adds: Please visit the www.tonitennille.net site to find out more about the new CD. "Click" on the "NEW CD" icon link. UPDATE: It will be available in record stores on September 18th on "Varese/Sarabande" Records. Hey, when/if you visit Toni's site, please write to the 'web meister', and comment on how brilliant the site is. The webmeister's name is 'DARYL' (or Reno Man ...) Enjoy ...
What nationality is the name "Dragon"?
Captain & Tennille: DD: My name originated in Bari, Italy ... on my father's side only. My name was originally "Dragone," but my grandfather "dropped" the "e" when he hit the U.S. shore.. Even though my mom was "every" nationality BUT Italian, I seem to prefer spaghetti over sauerkraut/sushi, etc.
When my wife and I were married in Virginia City, Nev., we were told that you two had been married there -- twice! True? And where in Virginia City did you say your vows?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Daryl and I were married in the Silver Queen Saloon wedding chapel in Virginia City, Nev. in 1975. We renewed our vows there on our 20th anniversary. We live only 30 minutes away from Virginia City now, and go up there once or twice a year just for fun and the memories.
In retrospect, do you regret the demise of the TV variety show in the 70's? I seem to recall that it lasted only a year, and that the two of you left rather than it being cancelled? Was day-in, day-out television production (as opposed to specials) a bad experience for you?
Captain & Tennille: TT: In retrospect, I'm actually very happy that we did the TV show. I It was extremely hard to do, and was totally time consuming and extremely stressful .. We had heavy pressure from our record company to quit the TV show, because they thought all of the exposure would harm our record sales. Daryl had a tough time with the show, because he just wasn't used to being "up front" all the time. He always liked to lay back and play his keyboards. During the first hiatus from the show, we flew to New York to ask Fred Silverman to release us from the deal. He wanted us to continue, since the show was doing very well in the ratings. He offered us Dick Clark as a producer, and since we thought Dick was more "music" friendly (as opposed to comedy sketches), we agreed to continue for the rest of the season. I do believe the show was more what we had wanted after Dick took over.
Am I crazy or were you on a Halloween episode of Fantasy Island? I vaguely remember something about a werewolf while you sang.
Captain & Tennille: TT: Yes ... I was on a Fantasy Island episode with a "beast" character. Those shows were such a hoot! You absolutely could not take them seriously, but they were fun. The story for that episode was sort of a "Beauty and the Beast" thing. I laughed all the way through it!
Why was and who decided to change the title of Willis Alan Ramsey's "Muskrat Candlelight" to "Muskrat Love"?
Captain & Tennille: TT: It seems to me that the sheet music we found for MUSKRAT LOVE had that title on it.
How far are you from the Ponderosa?
Captain & Tennille: We are about an hour's drive from the famous Ponderosa Ranch!
New York, N.Y.:
Does the Captain still wear his hat?
Captain & Tennille: DD: Thanks goodness ... a question for ME !
Yes, I still wear a hat. I need it more than ever, now than there is SO MUCH LESS HAIR to protect me from the ultra-violet rays ... especially at our 5000 plus foot elevation level.
I DO wear what I call a "disguise" hat. It's a "cap" rather than an official "Captain's Hat." I prefer that, because kids point to me in my "Captain's Hat," and say, "Why is he wearing a Captain's Hat?" The GRANDPARENTS answer: Well son/ daughter, there used to be a guy on TV called "The Captain'." Hmmm ... Doesn't fly does it?
I was wondering what you think of the dominance of rap, hip-hop type music today? Somehow I can't imagine the kids that like this kind of music singing along with the radio 20 years from now. I doubt that the name of some of these "artists" will even be remembered.
Captain & Tennille: TT: I do really wonder if these kids will be hearing their music in elevators in 20 years. Seriously, rap and hip hop express the state of mind of kids today. They have to have their own music, just like we did. It doesn't appeal to me, because it doesn't speak to my sensibility, but everyone needs to have their own music.
Falls Church, Va.:
Were you terribly bothered that big labels seem to have soured on your act by the early 80s? If they had continued to keep you on their rosters, would you have evolved your styles to the times? I guess I'm just wondering if your absence from performance halls and albums for those long years was mostly self-imposed, or if you would have been willing to "ride the tiger" if a recording company had decided to back you two up to the hilt?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Our recording career came to a halt after the second biggest hit we ever had, DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME. The president of Casablanca, our record company at the time, died quite young, and the company fell apart without him. Polygram bought what was left of Casablanca, and they really weren't interested in us, so our recording career languished. I always felt that our time would come and go, and have always been very pragmatic about it. It did seem to me that we had some more hits in us, but that's the way the game is played. It is the music BUSINESS, after all. We have never really enjoyed touring, so we have cut way back. I am a real homebody...I love my three dogs and three cats, my roses, my house. It is very hard for me to tear myself away to get on a plane and fly somewhere, although I do about six to eight symphony concerts a year. That's enough to keep me happy.
DD: Adds. Re: The music biz: I firmly believe that internet has the potential to revolutionize what we've become accustomed to -- in regards to how radio has musically "degraded" throughout the decades. So many stations have dropped "music" formats. Internet radio doesn't have to survive on "local only" listeners. It is world wide, and has the potential to create all kinds of musical formats that have been dropped by traditional radio. DD off..
Silver Spring, Md.:
What was the look like on Queen Elizabeth's face when you played "Muskrat Love" at the State Dinner in her honor in 1976?
Captain & Tennille: TT: Actually, Queen Elizabeth was asleep during the entire performance. Her husband, Prince Philip, smiled and tapped his toe in time to the music. Henry Kissinger HATED it!
Hi! Everyone is raving about Chez Georges, on the top of the Pompidou center (which houses a modern art museum).
I also love Bofinger near Bastille for typical brasserie fare.
Finally, try any one of Guy Savoy's restaurants.
Captain & Tennille: TT: Merci for all the information about Paris. I have been trying to revive my grammar school French. I have learned how to say "Je voudrais encore un ver de vin rouge!"
The Captain & Tennille's music always seemed upbeat. Is that a reflection of the both of you?
Captain & Tennille: TT: I have always been an optimistic person. Daryl is another story. I think listeners have always expected a positive message from our music. Every time we tried to record a song with more of a negative theme, it just didn't work for us. One of the reasons I sing the classic standard songs, is that I can sing a torch song, and no one expects it to reflect our relationship.
Captain & Tennille: TT: Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to ask questions. I've never really done this before, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Look for the new CAPTAIN & TENNILLE ...The Ultimate Collection CD on Hip-O Records. It contains 22 songs of ours and is quite an overview of our recording career. Skip over CAN'T STOP DANCIN", though. It is SO FRANTIC! WHAT were we ON?! Until next time ... TONI
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