Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tennille Passes Away
Daryl Dragon was a brilliant keyboardist, arranger and record producer, known to his many fans worldwide as "The Captain" half of the pop music duo, Captain and Tennille. Daryl passed away on Wednesday, Jan 2nd at 1:37am due to renal failure at the age of 76.
"He was a brilliant musician with many friends who loved him greatly. I was at my most creative in my life, when I was with him." - Toni Tennille.
Daryl was born into a musical family, the son of Academy Award winning arranger, composer and conductor Carmen Dragon and his wife, Eloise Dragon, a true coloratura soprano whose exquisite voice was often featured in film scores and in the recordings of Bing Crosby and other recording stars of the time. Darylâ™ Godfather was the famous actor and comedian, Danny Thomas.
Daryl was a classically trained pianist, but preferred to play Blues and Boogie rather than Bach and Beethoven. His piano heroes were Fats Domino, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Two of his greatest musical thrills were playing duets with Fats, and performing on television with the great blues guitarist and singer, BB King, another of his idols. Daryl had a very dry sense of humor and drew quite a few of his comedic musical ideas from Danish classical pianist and comedian, Victor Borge.
Daryl's familiar stage name came from his time as a backup musician for the Beach Boys in the mid 1960s and the early 1970s. He had taken to wearing a Captain's hat onstage, and Mike Love used to introduce him to the audience as DARYL DRAGON, CAPTAIN OF THE KEYBOARDS!!! During his time with the Boys, Daryl made significant contributions to their concerts and some recordings with his unique keyboard style, playing and arranging on the Beach Boys' 1972 release Carl and the Passions "So Tough." He also worked with Dennis Wilson, helping Dennis, who could not read music, transfer his often strikingly beautiful song-writing into musical notation. He co-wrote one of Dennis' finest ballads, Cuddle Up, which was recorded not only by Dennis himself, but later by Captain and Tennille.
In 1971 Daryl met his future wife, Toni Tennille, when she hired him to play piano for a musical called Mother Earth, which she had written while at South Coast Repertory Theatre in southern California. Soon after that, Daryl recommended her as acoustic pianist for the next Beach Boys tour, since their regular pianist needed to take some time off. While touring together with the Beach Boys, the couple gradually began a musical and romantic relationship. Whenever they were not touring with the Boys, Toni and Daryl began performing together in small clubs and other venues around Southern California. During their club days, after considering other options, they finally decided to call themselves Captain and Tennille. They began to develop a fan base of loyal followers on the club circuit from 1972 through 1974. Also during this time, Toni wrote the first of many love songs she would write for Daryl. The Way I Want to Touch You. The two scraped up enough cash to have a few hundred records pressed and distributed to local stations. When the The Way I Want to Touch You quickly became a listener favorite, record labels took notice. They signed with A&M Records in 1974, and were soon on their way to becoming one of the most loved musical duos of the 70s and 80s. Their first album for A&M and their first single were both named LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, from a song written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. Love Will Keep Us Together started climbing the charts in November of 1974 and hit #1 in July of 1975, remaining at #1 for 8 weeks. It was the Song of the Summer of 1975, winning the Grammy for 1975s Record of the Year.
Due to the duo's rising popularity and guest appearances they had made on television, ABC approached them with an offer of their own television Variety Show. The Captain and Tennille show became a network hit, drawing 34,000,000 viewers each week. Toni loved doing the show, but Daryl, who never enjoyed being on camera, did not. As a result, they declined ABC's offer to do another season, but did agree to do three annual specials for the network, beginning with Captain and Tennille in Hawaii, then Captain and Tennille in New Orleans, and ending with 1980's Captain and Tennille Songbook. Nine more albums and fourteen chart hits came in the next decade, all produced by Daryl, and concluding with another #1 hit, written by Toni for Daryl, called Do That To Me One More Time. Daryl and Toni kept up a busy schedule of touring and performing all over the US and Canada, as well as England, Australia, Japan, and in other countries.
After 39 years of marriage, Toni and Daryl separated in 2013, and finalized their divorce in July of 2014. They remained in constant contact and were dear friends to the end.
In a statement, Toni has asked that all of Daryl's many fans remember him as she does, with love and a grateful heart for the music they created together.
Survived by: Older brother, Doug Dragon of Hawaii; and two nieces, Kelly Arbout and Renee Henn of California.
Services: Daryl requested that there be no services.
Donations: If you would like to make a donation in his name, please do so to your favorite organization doing research into brain diseases and conditions such as Parkinsons Disease, familial and essential tremor, effects of concussion and PTSD. Thank you.