Daryl Dragon, the hat-wearing musician familiar to 1970s music fans as half of the bestselling duo The Captain & Tennille, died Tuesday in Prescott, Arizona at age 76.
Dragon’s ex-wife, Toni Tennille, “was with him as he took his last breath,” said Harlon Boll, a spokesperson for the singer. In a statement, Tennille said, “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.”
Dragon died of renal failure, according to Boll.
“Love Will Keep Us Together,” the title track from the duo’s 1975 debut album, reached No. 1 in July of 1975 and won the top Record of the Year prize at the following year’s Grammy Awards. “Do That to Me One More Time,” the last of their big hits, also reached the top of the chart, in 1979. In the interval, the Captain & Tennille reached the top 10 with “Muskrat Love,” “The Way I Want to Touch You,” “Lonely Night (Angel Face)” and “Shop Around.”
His stage moniker was said to have been coined by Mike Love during the late ’60s and early ’70s period when Dragon was a keyboard player for the Beach Boys; the perennial captain’s hat followed to cement the persona.
The duo’s variety show ran for one season on ABC and was followed by a series of annual specials. Dragon, who was virtually a silent partner in the duo, was said to be uncomfortable being on television, which contributed to the demise of their well-viewed series in 1977.
Dragon and Tennille divorced in 2014, after being married for 39 years. Tennille released her memoir in 2016, and in an interview with People magazine about his medical condition in 2017, Dragon said he was working on an autobiography and “I am hoping I will have as much success with my own.”
Tennille’s spokesperson said “they remained in constant contact and were dear friends to the end… 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.”
Dragon is survived by a brother, Doug Dragon, and two nieces, Kelly Arbout and Renee Henn. Per Tennille’s spokesperson, Dragon had asked that there be no services.