As Jack White soldiers on with his solo career, it's time here at List of the Day to use this flimsy premise to remember all the great musical duos who are no longer intact. Obviously, there have been more than 25, but it's my job to make the square peg fit into the round hole. I've tried as best I can to avoid duos who are said to be on hiatus, figuring if they can't decide if they're still together, why should I?
An alarming amount of lazy musicians maintain they're still working together and could conceivable release something in the next decade. I ignored dynamic duos who performed in bigger organizations. Therefore, Lennon and McCartney were ineligible. "The Ballad of John and Yoko" may be all them, but it's still credited as Beatles, The.
But that still leaves plenty of quality twosomes to remember. The ranking was, as always, carefully programmed, with positions mostly determined by how I typed them out in the first place. Maybe you enjoy cutting and pasting, but I find it annoying.
25) Buckner and Garcia: Like most people, I assumed the duo who recorded "Pac-Man Fever" to be Richard Buckner and Jerry Garcia, but according to Wikipedia, the most semi-reliable source for news on the web, it's an Akron-based duo of Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia. The original recordings are not currently available and re-recordings of such classics as "Froggy's Lament," "Do The Donkey Kong," "Ode to A Centipede" and, of course, "Pac-Man Fever" are what's available for purchase. Doesn't anyone value art anymore?
24) Zager and Evans: "In the Year 2525," a number one hit in 1969, when we were all led to believe man landed on the moon in preparation for an MTV ad campaign, is arguably the greatest song ever written about the year 2525, which none of us now living will be able to confirm its accuracy. The duo smartly put Zager ahead of Evans, knowing full well the "Z" catalog would put this near Frank Zappa as opposed to the Easybeats.
23) The Louvin Brothers: Satan Is Real has become a legendary album cover and hopefully a few hipsters who enjoy laughing at it have taken the time to listen to the record within its cover and discovered that Ira and Charlie Louvin's harmonies are far more listenable than the racket heard in most Brooklyn bedrooms. A trust fund is nice, but it won't give you a career.
22) Richard and Linda Thompson: Their divorce album, Shoot Out the Lights, makes them all the more legendary. Sure, Richard on his worst day can outplay just about anyone on guitar, and Linda, even when her vocal cords are paralyzing, can outsing the auto-tuned geniuses that litter the computer-as-music generation (don't get me wrong, I love machines!), but everyone knows complacency and good manners are instantly forgettable. Linda with a bottle, looking to smash it on Richard's head, is a ratings winner. Everyone take your chances on the Wall of Death.
20) The Carpenters: As a child of the 1970s, I will forever associate the warm, dulcet tones of Karen Carpenter with the whirring of the dentist drill. Dental assistants today may be chatting about the merits of the Ramones, but back in the 1970s there was a world order that kept things in their proper place and lite-FM played elevator music and sweet, goopy ballads that reeked of old lady perfume and hard, hard candy. Tonight, let's make love to the Lettermen, darling.
19) Eurythmics: Annie Lennox was the face, so severe, and Dave Stewart was the music man who'd go on to produce lonely old musicians and be a part of the SuperGroup SuperHeavy that no one can stop talking about!
18) Richard and Mimi Farina: So much ink was spilled about Joan Baez and Bob Dylan being so important to the folk movement, but it was Joan's kid sister Mimi and her husband Richard who cranked out several albums of autoharp-folkie glory!
17) Page and Plant: While they were together in the Led Zeppelin, Jimmy and Robert took it to the streets as Page and Plant, perhaps avoiding John Paul Jones, lest they be called Page, Plant and Jones, and therefore sounding like a Crosby, Stills and Nash or Emerson, Lake and Powell ripoff. As it was, this obvious Simon and Garfunkel homage, complete with acoustic instruments for MTV's UnLedded, managed to include an entire crew of other musicians, including the Cure's Porl Thompson, whose banjo playing is much underrated, and who is not a member of the Thompson Twins, which much to my chagrin were a trio!
16) David & David: Consisting of David Baerwald and David Ricketts, David & David had a modest hit with "Welcome To The Boomtown" before disbanding after just one album. They continued to work with other musicians and were an integral part of Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club, whose success created a bit of rancor among the ranks.
15) Righteous Brothers: Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield performed "blue-eyed soul," which was, of course, a polite way of saying white guys singing soul music. Back when radio was king, these distinctions were noticed less, since you had to really try in order to see musicians. If they were young and living in Brooklyn today, likely they would ironically cover Chuck Berry's "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man."
14) Outkast: Andre 3000 and Big Boi grabbed attention by taking hip-hop and adding plenty of other styles to the mix to make it more palatable for folks who aren't so enthusiastic about the hip and the hop. They are said to still be together, but words from Andre 3000 made it sound as if new work wasn't in the making. I suppose as long as the members of a duo are alive, there is always a chance they aren't broken up. But until the money talks...
13) Ashford and Simpson: With the passing of Nickolas Ashford on August 22, 2011, the legendary Ashford and Simpson team were officially done by anyone's estimation. While the public knew them as the team who gave as "Solid," A&S (also once a department store!) wrote such hits as "Let's Go Get Stoned" for Ray Charles and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," which became a huge hit for…
12) Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: Terrell collapsed in Marvin's arms onstage at a concert in Virginia. It was discovered that young Tammi had a brain tumor. It ended her performing career and took her life less than three years later. I should really let Kris Kristofferson narrate this one.
11) Eric B. and Rakim: Nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not yet accepted, Eric B. and Rakim were considered true avatars of hip-hop throughout the mid-80s and early 1990s, recording full-length albums that held their own. You'd think I could at least cut and paste them ahead of Sonny and Cher, but the Dextromethorphan I'm taking for this awful cold has made me lazier than usual.
10) Sonny and Cher: Though time and commercial radio has reduced them to "I Got You Babe," this duo also had a hit TV show and several other hits. He went into politics and Cher went into acting, singing and being Cher. Their daughter, now son, Chaz Bono is currently more famous than either of them.
9) Kris Kross: While dabbling in the "irony" department myself, let's get down with Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith, who gave the world the other hit song called "Jump." More importantly, they wore their clothing backwards! I tried it once in high school and it was uncomfortable!
8) England Dan and John Ford Coley:
When you learn that "England Dan" was from Texas and that "John Ford" was actually John Edward Coley, and even worse England Dan is the younger brother of Jim Seals, who was in the duo "Seals and Crofts," who have not been put on this list, due to me not thinking of them in time, well, then, it's time to question if anything you know for sure is for sure. Could the government be lying to us? Am I not really in the Witness Protection Program?
7) Wham!: The Andrew Ridgeley duo stayed together just long enough for George Michael to take his good looks and abandon his partner for mo' money and mo' fame. I don't want to make any grand assumptions here, but I think some musicians might be narcissistic!
6) Sam and Dave: Sure, they inspired The Blues Brothers, who missed this list because there have to be some limits -- though, evidently not many. But anyone who has listened to Sam Moore reach those high notes knows what they were. When Elvis Costello went to cover "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," he didn't dare attempt it their way. Because even Costello knew there had to be limits.
5) Silver Apples: Good for them that they reformed in the 1990s to reap some benefit of their much-overlooked career back in the 1960s. Bad for them that Simeon was seriously injured in a van accident while touring and that Danny Taylor died in 2005. While it's true, only the weird survive, they meant on vinyl.
4) Milli Vanilli: Sure, they've been a punchline for years, attacked for not actually singing on their records and lip-synching in performances. By today's standards, they should be golden gods, an inspiration for SuperBowl half-time performers and others who understand that dancing and jumping around can't be sacrificed just to sing a few notes. Who would pay to see someone stand still? We can't all be Adele!
3) Ike and Tina Turner: Ike's violence doomed him. Tina rose like the proverbial phoenix. But there's no denying that Ike Turner was a key force in early rock 'n' roll and that together they were a live act without peer -- well, if you exclude James Brown and his Famous Flames and The Cars (just kidding on that last one, really).
2) Simon and Garfunkel: Are they back together again? When the money isn't talking, neither are these "old friends" from Queens, who if you've ever seen the two interviewed are very different people, each with outsized egos and meticulous natures. It's what made their harmonies and arrangements so detailed and perfect. I wouldn't want to be their personal assistants. "Yes, Mr. Garfunkel, I'm certain I pressed your Levi's."
1) Flat Duo Jets: As an acknowledged influence on Jack White and his Stripes, Dexter Romweber's rockin' little duo (briefly a trio) has now gotten greater recognition than they likely ever expected by not doing anything more than existing. They didn't even have to do a Volkswagen commercial to become a key influence on the new pseudo-garage-punk-blues revival. (To paraphrase Bob Dylan, How many hyphens does it take to accurately define a group before you call it a genre?)