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Why is Daryl Hall suing John Oates? Everything to know about the rock duo’s legal battle

The 77-year-old singer filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order against his Hall & Oates bandmate John Oates.
/ Source: TODAY

The musical partnership between Daryl Hall and his Hall & Oates bandmate John Oates has hit a sour note.

Hall, 77, filed a lawsuit on Nov. 16 and obtained a temporary restraining order against Oates, 75, in Nashville Chancery Court, according to court documents viewed by NBC News.

One of the most successful duos in rock history, Hall & Oates scored dozens of hits in the 1970s and '80s, including "Rich Girl," "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," “I Can’t Go For that (No Can Do)," "Out of Touch," and "Maneater," which all hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

Daryl Hall and John Oates
Daryl Hall has filed a lawsuit and a request for a restraining order against his Hall & Oates bandmate John Oates.Michael Tran / FilmMagic

Hall's lawsuit falls under the category of “contract/debt.” According to court documents obtained by People, but not seen by NBC News, the duo formed a limited liability partnership, and Oates now wants to sell his share of it to a company called Primary Wave Music, which already owns some of their music catalog.

Hall alleged in the legal motion that the sale would be a breach of contract and would cause him "imminent irreparable harm," according to People.

Derek C. Conover, an attorney for Oates, said in a statement to NBC News his client has no comment on the lawsuit at this time.

"Mr. Oates team will work toward a resolution that makes sense for all involved, but for now we plan to let the facts, law and courts play this one out," Conover said.

NBC News has reached out to an attorney and a representative for for Hall but has not received a response.

"Hall appears to be trying to prevent John Oates from selling his shares in their collective joint venture which appears to own at least some rights to their catalogue of music," Danny Cevallos, NBC News legal analyst, said on TODAY.

"Musician's catalogs are among the most precious thing they can own," he added. "Because once they sell that off, they don’t really have a lot else."

Though Hall & Oates has not released new music in many years, the band has never announced a breakup and, in fact, had still been performing together in recent years.

But as far back as 2003, Hall had been indicating the pair may be better off on their own.

"We've wound up putting records out on our own now," Hall said while performing on TODAY in 2003. "I think we work better on our own, that seems to be the best thing for us."

In January 2020, Hall told told Rolling Stone that he was writing new songs for an album. Oates told the publication separately that he would “definitely jump on board later" to add his own parts to the songs.

However, last year Hall confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the album, which had been planned “before the pandemic," had been shelved.

"Perceptions changed, life changed, everything changed," Hall explained. "I’m more interested in pursuing my own world. And so is John.”

Hall also said on the "Club Random with Bill Maher" podcast last year he didn't consider Oates to be a "creative partner."

"John and I are brothers, right, but we are not creative brothers, we are business partners," he said. "We made records called Hall and Oates together, but we’ve always been very separate, and it's a very important thing for me."