Daryl Dragon of ‘Captain and Tennille’ dies at 76

Daryl “Captain” Dragon of the 1970s husband-and-wife pop duo, “Captain and Tennille,” died on Wednesday. He was 76. 

The pop star, instantly recognizable with his trademark captain’s hat, succumbed to kidney failure at a hospice in Prescott, AZ, his publicist Harlan Boll said. His ex-wife of 40 years and musical partner, Toni Tennille, was there with him in his last moments.

“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,” Tennille said in a statement to Fox News.

Classically trained, worked

Born in Los Angeles in 1942 to musically talented parents, Dragon had music in his DNA. His father Carmen was an Academy Award-winning composer and his mother Eloise sang on Bing Crosby records.

Dragon was classically trained to play the keyboard. He got his start, and his nickname, “The Captain,” playing piano for the Beach Boys in the 1960s and early 70s as a backup musician. Singer Mike Love started calling him “The Captain of the Keyboards” because of the captain’s hat he wore during performances.

Dragon met his longtime life and music partner in 1971, when she was performing in a musical, “Mother Earth,” and looking for a keyboardist. Dragon then invited Tennille to play piano for the Beach Boys on a tour, and the two soon began a separate musical partnership, playing small venues in Southern California.

They soon embarked on a successful music career, with Dragon on keyboards and Tennille singing. Tennille wrote a love song for Dragon in 1974, “The Way I Want to Touch You,” that was a hit with a local radio station and earned them a recording contract with A&M records.

The song eventually reached number four on the charts, but their real breakthrough was a cover of the Neil Sedaka song “Love Will Keep Us Together” that topped the charts and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1975, the same year that they married.

They went on to record a string of top 10 hits like “Muskrat Love” and “Shop Around” and they cinched another number one spot on the charts in 1980 with “Do That to Me One More Time.”

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Life-long marriage, friendship

At the height of their success, they starred in their own one-season variety show, “The Captain and Tennille Show on ABC,” which was followed by ABC specials “Captain and Tennille in Hawaii,” “Captain and Tennille in New Orleans,” and “Captain and Tennille Songbook.”

The couple divorced in 2014, but even after their lifelong romantic partnership ended they stayed friends in their autumn years, spokesman Harlan Boll said. Tennille moved to Arizona to take care of Dragon until his death.

Dragon is survived by older brother Doug Dragon and two nieces, Kelly Arbout and Renee Henn.

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