Why Hall and Oates’ ‘She’s Gone’ Video Enraged a TV Station
In 1973, Hall & Oates made the strangest music video of their career.
The duo had scored a radio hit with “She’s Gone,” the lead single from its sophomore LP, Abandoned Luncheonette. Music videos were rare in the pre-MTV world, but Hall & Oates were invited to perform the song on a “teenage dance show” shot in Atlantic City and aired on Philadelphia television. Only problem, it wouldn’t be a true performance.
“They wanted us to go on and lip-sync,” John Oates recently explained to Yahoo!, adding that the concept of faking their way through the song “didn’t compute.”
Instead, they came up with an alternative idea. “One night, sitting in our apartment that we were sharing in New York City, Daryl and I said, ‘Let's just do something crazy,’” Oates recalled.
The artists quickly assembled a small team, including their tour manager, Hall’s girlfriend at the time and Oates' sister, who was a film student at Temple University. They came up with a peculiar video concept, grabbed furniture from their apartment and headed out the door.
“So we brought our little team down to Philadelphia, and we showed up at the local television station," Oates continued. "And they fully expected us to show up and pretend to sing our song. And we showed up with chairs and props and all this stuff.”
Upon their arrival, Hall & Oates were not well received by the studio staff. “They didn’t know what to make of us, and they thought that we were mocking them," Oates admitted. "They got really pissed off.”
The amateurish nature of the video seemed to bristle the local TV professionals, who took their jobs very seriously. “Here's this 20-year-old girl who's a film student with a script that we had all written together," Oates recalled of the strange scene. "She walks into the control room, and they're like, ‘Oh, what is happening here?’ And she starts telling these guys what we're doing."
The result was a video that's equal parts bizarre and hilarious. Hall & Oates remain stone-faced throughout the clip, only occasionally lip-syncing as the song plays. A mysterious woman moves across the screen, followed by the devil. Monopoly money gets strewn about. Hall is draped in a bathrobe. Oates starts the video wearing what appears to be a sleeveless tuxedo, but later slips on penguin flippers to play a guitar solo with flippers.
In hindsight, Oates described the piece as “performance art.” However, the TV crew was not amused.
Watch Hall & Oates' 'She's Gone' Video
"They hit the ceiling," Oates noted. “They refused to play [the video]. They did not play it on the show. And they called our record company and they said they were going to ban us from Philadelphia radio, they would never play us again. ‘Your careers are over!’ Oh, it was a big deal. Our record company was like, ‘What did you guys do here?’ And we were laughing all the way. We just thought it was the most hysterical thing that we’d ever done.”
The clip remained unaired for decades, but the digital age has allowed fans to bask in its weirdness.
"It wasn't until YouTube began that we actually said, ‘You know, we've got to post this thing,’" Oates admitted. "I always had a copy of it. So once there was a platform for us to put things up, the first thing I said was, ‘We've got to get the 'She's Gone' video out into the world."
It’s since become something of a cult classic, racking up millions of views online. "The people who get it love it," Oates said. "And the people who don't, I guess they just don't.”