Music fans who know Daryl Hall & John Oates for their unique brand of blue-eyed Philly soul might be shocked by the androgynous cover art for the multiplatinum duo’s 1975 self-titled fourth album, on which the pair sport feathered Farrah Fawcett hair and dramatic slashes of Jerry Hall face paint (we’re talking the sort of contouring the Kardashian sisters could only dream of). But Daryl Hall & John Oates had surprisingly glam origins — they once rubbed padded shoulders and sequined elbows with the New York Dolls, Television, and Andy Warhol, and they even opened for David Bowie on his first U.S. “Ziggy Stardust” tour.
Now, in an amusing animated short, Hall and Oates reminisce about how their Bowie touring experience led to them to work with Pierre LaRoche — the man who created Bowie’s iconic astral-sphere Ziggy makeup and Aladdin Sane lightning-bolt look — on the wild cover concept for Daryl Hall & John Oates. The musicians had not appeared on the covers for their previous LPs, and for this album (their first for RCA Records), they were inspired by Bowie to make a very bold statement.
“We were kind of acoustic, mandolins and acoustic guitars [back then],” says Oates in the cartoon, reminiscing about that fateful Memphis tour date. “And [Bowie] came out and…”
“…he blew everybody away,” interjects Hall with a chuckle. “So we made a decision: We said, ‘We better change our act.’”
Back in 1984, Oates discussed the album’s controversial artwork with biographer Nick Tosches for the book Dangerous Dances: “We decided that if we were going to put our faces on an album cover for the first time, we wanted to do it in a big way. Pierre said, in that French accent of his, ‘I will immortalize you!’ And he just did. To this day, it’s the only album cover that people ask us about.”
Additionally, three years ago Oates chucklingly recalled his Bowie touring experience in an interview with Something Else: “We were in our folk mode, and we didn’t know what he was doing. I had known his previous album [1971’s Hunky Dory], which was a little kind of folky. And when I saw him backstage, with the shaved eyebrows and the orange hair and the giant platform shoes, I was like, ‘What is this?’ I had made the mistake of taking a quaalude. So I went out in the audience and I sat down to watch his show. The show started with the theme from 2001 and these strobe lights — and then they came out as the Spiders From Mars. I had never seen anything like that in my life. It was a totally life-changing experience.”
This “Ziggy Played Guitar” cartoon is the third and final installment in a collaboration with Rosewood Creative, chronicling Daryl Hall & John Oates’s five-decade career and promoting the duo’s summer 2017 tour with Tears for Fears. Previous episodes have told the tales of how the pair met and of their landmark single “Rich Girl.”
- Daryl Hall on Being Sampled by the xx: “Have Fun and Pay Me”
- John Oates Discusses His Famous Mustache and Favorite Musical Memories
- Tears for Fears Talk Touring With Daryl Hall & John Oates