Hall & Oates singers face off in court over joint business: Everything to know

Daryl Hall and John Oates are at odds -- get all the details.

December 1, 2023, 3:40 PM

A judge sided with Daryl Hall in a court hearing Nov. 30, extending an existing restraining order which temporarily blocks fellow Hall & Oates band member John Oates from selling his share of the duo's joint venture to Primary Wave, a private music publishing and talent management company.

The decision followed a hearing Thursday morning at Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville, Tennessee, during which lawyers for Hall and Oates clashed over whether Hall was entitled to the extended restraining order blocking Oates' deal.

Hall's counsel argued that the court order should be issued to put the sale on hold until a private arbitrator can hear the case and decide whether Oates was legally allowed to sell his stake to Primary Wave.

On the other side, Oates' attorneys said they believed that the case should play out in arbitration and that Hall is "not entitled to any relief at all." At most, Oates' attorneys conceded, the judge should extend the restraining order by only a few weeks.

Chancellor Russell T. Perkins ultimately ruled Thursday that the sale cannot move forward until Feb. 17, 2024, or until a private arbitrator hears the case, whichever comes first.

Perkins noted that Hall could face "irreparable harm" if Oates' sale to Primary Wave -- which has purchased the catalogs of several prominent artists, including Kurt Cobain, Chicago, Def Leppard and more -- moves forward before Hall is able to prove it violates terms of their partnership deal.

"The proposed transfer by Defendants is still pending," Perkins wrote in his decision. "If the transfer goes forward before the arbitrator has an opportunity to consider and rule upon Plaintiffs' application for interim injunctive relief in the arbitration, then it could, as a practical matter, render much of the relief Plaintiffs are seeking in the arbitration ineffectual."

Read on for more information about Hall and Oates' legal dispute.

PHOTO: John Oates and Daryl Hall of American pop duo Hall and Oates, New York State, February 1983.
John Oates and Daryl Hall of American pop duo Hall and Oates, New York State, February 1983.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Hall's initial filings against Oates

Details of the duo's private business agreements and Oates' attempted sale to Primary Wave have mostly been kept under wraps, and it is unclear exactly what is at stake in the litigation, as previous court documents have thus far been sealed.

Hall first filed court documents on Nov. 16 seeking "emergency injunctive relief in aid of an arbitration" in the matter of Oates' alleged deal with Primary Wave, which Hall claims is "an indisputable breach of contract.

"The temporary injunctive relief sought herein is in aid of the arbitration so that the status quo of the partnership may be maintained, and the claims may be considered in the arbitration by the arbitrator in due course on the merits before irreparable damage is done by a closing of the Unauthorized Transaction," the court filing reads.

Hall filed a temporary restraining order against Oates on Nov. 16 as a means to "expedite proceedings" in the matter. The order, which states in part that Oates "shall take no actions related to or in furtherance of closing the proposed transaction with Primary Wave," was granted on the same day.

The Nov. 30 hearing concerned an extension of that earlier temporary injunction, which prevents Oates from selling 100% of his half of the pop duo's limited liability partnership, Whole Oats Enterprises LLP, to Primary Wave.

Primary Wave previously acquired the copyright and music publishing interests to songs written by Sara and Janna Allen in June 2007. The sisters wrote some of Hall & Oates' biggest songs, including chart-topping hits like "Kiss on My List," "Maneater," "Private Eyes" and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)." Primary Wave said in a press release that same month that it owned a "significant interest in the song catalog" of Hall & Oates.

PHOTO: In this July 10, 2019, file photo, Daryl Hall and John Oates perform in Paris.
In this July 10, 2019, file photo, Daryl Hall and John Oates perform in Paris.
David Wolff - Patrick/Getty Images

Hall further details claims against Oates

According to court documents filed Nov. 29, Hall claims Oates' plan was unauthorized because he allegedly did not receive Hall's consent, which Hall says Oates is required to do. Hall says in the documents that Oates and his co-defendants engaged in the transaction "completely behind my back and without my written approval."

"Good Morning America" has reached out to representatives for Hall, Oates, Oates' co-defendants, and Primary Wave for comment.

Hall, who said in his court filing that he was "blindsided" by the ordeal, also called Oates' actions the "ultimate partnership betrayal," noting that paperwork shows negotiations between Oates and Primary Wave "began, at latest, on October 2, 2023, when a nondisclosure agreement was signed." He added that he first learned of the deal on Oct. 20, 2023.

Hall goes on to claim in the court documents that, "most egregiously," Oates did this while they were in the middle of a mediation, which began in August, to determine what was going to happen with the assets of Whole Oates Enterprises amid the duo's "divorce" and the "dissolution" of their LLP.

As a result, Hall claims Oates' actions represent a "completely clandestine and bad faith move."

Hall further claimed that Oates' actions have caused "tremendous upheaval, harm and difficulty in my life, not to mention unnecessary expense and burden" as they occurred while he is "in the middle of a tour," during which he "needs to focus and perform at top level."

At the heart of Hall's concern is Primary Wave taking control of his name and likeness, which he called "highly personal assets."

"Respectfully, he must be stopped from this latest wrongdoing and his malicious conduct reined in once and for all," Hall concluded.

PHOTO: Musical duo Hall & Oates, New York, 1982.
Musical duo Hall & Oates, New York, 1982. From left; Daryl Hall and John Oates.
Luciano Viti/Getty Images

Oates responds to Hall's claims

Oates responded to Hall's claims in a Declaration also filed in court on Nov. 29, in which he said he's "tremendously disappointed" that his longtime musical partner was making "inflammatory, outlandish, and inaccurate statements" about him.

In the declaration, he also voiced concern that Hall had "decided to publicize issues that are the subject of our private mediation and private arbitration." He refused to comment on Hall's claims, saying he "cannot address specific issues … without violating my own obligation to keep private matters that he and I agreed to keep private."

Oates said he's always done his best to have the "Hall & Oates music and brand" be perceived "in the most positive light" and that through multiple instances of him and Hall not seeing eye to eye, he has "tried my best to present opportunities to improve and protect the business and artistic integrity of the partnership." He added in the declaration that Hall has been "unwilling" to work with him.

"Over the years, Daryl has consistently and publicly been adamant about being perceived as an individual rather than as part of a duo or group. Thus, he has insisted on our being known as 'Daryl Hall and John Oates,' rather than the more commonly known 'Hall & Oates.' On this point I agree," Oates said.

Oates said in the declaration he is "deeply hurt" by Hall's actions and said his accusations "are not true."