She had a pristine voice and a pretty smile; he was a gifted keyboardist with a penchant for sailor’s caps. Together, they became the Captain and Tennille. Throughout the 70s, the talented duo released a string of hit records and even starred in their own television variety show. And, much like a fairy tale, love has kept them together ever since.
The pair met in 1972. Daryl Dragon (The Captain) was playing for the Beach Boys at the time. In between tours, he was called to audition for a job as a keyboardist for a local theater group which happened to be starring a talented young singer named Toni Tennille. The two hit it off and when the theater run ended, Dragon recommended her as a backup singer for the Beach Boys. They also started to play in small clubs around the Los Angeles area where they built a loyal following and captured the attention of A&M Records who signed the duo in 1974. They also entered into another contract that year, when the pair tied the knot.
They came out of the gate strong in 1975, with their first album, Love Will Keep Us Together. The first single, a playful Neil Sedaka-penned song of the same name, shot all the way up to #1, earning the Captain and Tennille a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. They followed their debut with a new album in 1976, called Songs of Joy, and more hits followed, including “The Way I Want to Touch You,” “Shop Around,” Lonely Night (Angel Face)” and the silly ballad, “Muskrat Love.” Each of these songs made it at least to the #4 spot on the charts, making the Captain and Tennille a household name.
The pair had such a wonderful chemistry together that ABC offered them a prime-time variety show that same year. Simply called The Captain and Tennille, the show featured the two lovebirds singing, telling jokes and hamming it up for their nationwide audience. The show was quite popular, but also a distraction for the duo, who wanted to focus most of their attention on their musical efforts. After a single year, the series was cancelled and the Captain and Tennille were back in the studio.
Perhaps it was over-exposure, perhaps it was the corny synthesized muskrat sounds, but their popularity was beginning to fade towards the end of the decade. They released Come in from the Rain in 1977, which produced three minor hits, and Dream in 1978, featuring the top-10 hit “You Never Done it Like That.” From there, they moved from A&M Records to the Casablanca label and ended the decade with the release of Make Your Move in 1979. That album gave them their second #1 hit, a soft ballad called “Do That to Me One More Time,” thereby concluding the decade on a high note. The duo would release one last album in 1980 called Keeping Our Love Warm, but a hit failed to materialize.
Despite the end of the Captain and Tennille as a performing act, the pair have kept busy ever since. Both worked as studio session musicians for many years, including Toni’s appearance as a backup singer on the Pink Floyd blockbuster album, The Wall. She also did a stint appearing in the Broadway musical Victor/Victoria, before turning her attention to the pop standards of yesteryear, her sultry voice now exquisitely backed by a full orchestra. More importantly, you’ll be happy to know that all these years later, they are still happily married.
Were you fans of the Captain and Tennille back in the day? Did you tune into their television series each week? Feel free to share all of your memories of this talented duo in our comments section below, as we pay tribute to this unforgettable part of the 1970s decade.