oni Tennille was born in Montgomery, Alabama, where she sang with her sisters and had nine years of classical piano training. In 1964, the family moved to Los Angeles, where the California sunshine delighted Toni. She got her first job as a file clerk, and hummed her way to and from the office.
Her first professional experience was with the South Coast Repertory Theater. She and a friend, Ron Thronson, wrote a rock-ecology musical for the theater called Mother Earth. The show ran in San Francisco to good reviews, and had a short run in Los Angeles. During the San Francisco run, the show needed a new keyboard player: enter Daryl Dragon, who was in town between Beach Boy tours.
Daryl, the son of conductor Carmen Dragon, had studied classical piano for ten years. During the run of Mother Earth Daryl became impressed with Toni's writing and singing and persuaded her to join the Beach Boys as pianist on their next tour. She was the first and only "Beach Girl." Daryl wound up being nicknamed "Captain Keyboard" by Mike Love, because he always wore a naval captain's cap on stage, so when he and Toni teamed up, they naturally became the Captain and Tennille.
Toni and Daryl were unable to land a recording contract, so with $500 of their own money, they cut a single and released it on their own Butterscotch Castle label. "The Way I Want to Touch You" became a regional hit, and before long, the duo was signed to A&M Records.
It was love at first hearing, and Kip suggested they release it as a single. They agreed.
"Love Will Keep Us Together" broke on American radio in mid-April 1975, and climbed steadily through the month of May. It reached number one in June, and spent nearly six months on the charts. Over two and a half million copies of the single were sold in both English and Spanish. It won the 1975 Grammy as Record of the Year, gained instant recognition and enormous popular acclaim for the duo, and became their signature tune. The album of the same title went on to sell over a million copies, established them as pop stars, and opened the avenues that led to their 1976 ABC television series. Toni and Daryl also recorded their entire first album in Spanish, releasing "Love Will Keep Us Together" ("Por Amor Viviremos") from that LP as a single. It charted on August 16, 1975, while the English original was still on the survey -- the only occasion when two versions of a number one single were on the Billboard Hot 100 in different languages by the same artist.
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