Captain & Tennille were American recording artists whose primary success occurred in the 1970s. The husband-and-wife duo were “Captain” Daryl Dragon (born August 27, 1942) and Cathryn Antoinette “Toni” Tennille (born May 8, 1940). They have five albums certified gold or platinum and scored numerous hits on the US singles charts, the most enduring of which included “Love Will Keep Us Together”, “Do That to Me One More Time”, and “Muskrat Love”. They hosted their own television variety series on ABC in 1976–77.
Early history and collaboration
In 1972, Toni Tennille was the co-writer of an ecology-themed musical called Mother Earth. At that time, Daryl Dragon (son of composer Carmen Dragon) was the keyboardist for The Beach Boys. When Tennille’s show was getting ready to move from San Francisco’s Marines Memorial Theatre to Southern California’s South Coast Repertory, a call was put out for a replacement keyboardist. Dragon was in between tours when he heard about the opening, met Tennille in San Francisco to audition, and landed the gig.
Reciprocating in kind, Dragon later suggested Tennille to The Beach Boys when the band needed an additional keyboardist, and they hired her. She toured with them for a year, and Toni Tennille has since been known as The Beach Boys’ one and only “Beach Girl”.
When the tour was over, and realizing their collaborative potential, they began performing as a duo at the now-defunct Smokehouse Restaurant in Encino, California, and started to make a name for themselves in the Los Angeles area. During this time, an early version of a Tennille-penned tune they had recorded, “The Way I Want to Touch You”, became a hit on a local radio station and led to a recording contract with A&M Records.
Their first hit single was a cover of Neil Sedaka’s and Howard Greenfield’s “Love Will Keep Us Together”. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart nine weeks after its debut in 1975 and went on to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA on July 1, 1975. Tennille paid tribute to Sedaka in the recording when she overdubbed her own voice during the outro of the single, singing “Sedaka is back.” They successfully mined the Sedaka songbook a number of times over their chartmaking career as two other hit singles were Sedaka co-writes, “Lonely Night (Angel Face)” and “You Never Done It Like That”, as well as several other album tracks. Their Spanish recording of “Love Will Keep Us Together”, “Por Amor Viviremos”, also charted in 1975 — it was the first time two versions of the same single charted at the same time.
Tennille and Dragon married on Veteran’s Day (November 11), 1975, not Valentine’s Day as is often erroneously reported.