In 1975, Toni Tennille stepped on stage sporting a sparkly purple dress and a bob haircut. “Okay, let’s get it, honey.” she said, smiling. Husband and wife duo Captain and Tennille dominated much of the 70s with their keyboard and piano instrumentals. Their 1975 cover of Neil Sedaka’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” did more than just rack in popularity. It continued the common tradition of husband-and-wife musician groups, like John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Sonny and Cher. Unfortunately, the duo’s time in the spotlight didn’t last much longer than a decade, leaving the memories of the two that much more reminiscent.
Captain and Tennille were known for their love ballads, never straying from the slow, peaceful story of two in love. The two never fully joined the ranks of “stardom” after forming in 1974, but created eight albums and had an admirable career even with underlying issues. “Love Will Keep Us Together” was the band’s number one hit till 1979 when “Do That To Me One More Time” was released, which again hit number one in early 1980. In comparison, Richard and Karen Carpenter sang similar sounding music for those unfamiliar with the band. The Carpenters captured the essence of love and the perfect life throughout much of their career with hits like “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Top of the World,” and “Can’t Smile Without You.”
Daryl Dragon, known by his stage name Captain Keyboard, worked with The Beach Boys for five years until he joined Tennille in 1972. Tennille, at the time, was creating music for the musical Mother Earth which tackled environmental issues caused by large corporations. Tennille was and still is a gifted singer-songwriter. In an interview with Bob Andelman, she claimed that much of her career was for Dragon’s approval, which she never fully received. She blames much of his behavior on his childhood and growing up in a dysfunctional family, and says that he never said “I love you” once in all the years they were married.
Even after their career peak, the two continued working together until their divorce in 2014. The duo’s time together was mainly glued by a contract and a shared business that thrived for decades. Tennille claims she tried to “fix” Dragon, but it never happened. As much as it appeared that Tennille and Dragon were the perfect musical couple, it was a different story behind closed doors. In a 2016 interview with Insider, Tennille said, “People thought we had this fairytale relationship, and I knew that they would be disappointed.” Tennille wanted to marry Dragon initially but says they worked better as professionals, not husband and wife.
Two years later, Tennille published her memoir about her career and marriage to Dragon, writing on some difficult subject matter. To say the least, the two had a rocky relationship. Dragon dealt with tremors for much of his later life until his death in 2019 from kidney failure. Tennille is still sporting her same haircut from three decades ago, a decade where many would say was the happiest time of the duo’s life. But to Tennille, now is her time of freedom from a man she called her best friend for over 30 years.
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