Tennille on the Captain: ‘I’ve never felt loved by him’
Los Angeles –
It wasn’t love but inertia that kept them together.
That’s the essence of “Toni Tennille: A Memoir” (Taylor Trade Publishing), which details the relationship of Daryl “the Captain” Dragon and Toni Tennille, better known as ’70s pop-music duo the Captain & Tennille.
They had a Top-40 pop-chart run from 1975-1980 with hits including “Love Will Keep Us Together” and “Do That to Me One More Time.” There was a Grammy, a TV series, millions of album sales and a fan club.
Yet Toni Tennille says their marriage, which lasted from 1975 to 2013, was a flop.
“I’ve never felt loved by him,” Tennille, now 75, said in a phone interview from her home near Orlando, Florida. “He just did not seem to be able to do that.” (Dragon, in a written statement, declined a request for an interview.)
The couple met in 1972 near the end of the run of an ecological stage musical that Tennille had written. Dragon, who was called “Captain of the Keyboards” by the Beach Boys, was hired for the musical’s band.
“I loved him madly at the very beginning,” she said. “In my mind’s eye, he was this one thing. But the truth was, he was this other thing that I would find out I would never, ever be able to change.”
Tennille said Dragon’s behavior over the years became increasingly eccentric and slowly wore her down. He began to prefer the isolation of his bedroom, she said, and after he developed tremors, she transitioned to full-time caretaker — though she says he could have taken care of himself at that time.
So why did she stay?
“I didn’t want to let the fans down,” she said.
Tennille filed for divorce in January 2014. She said the split was amicable. The couple, who co-own a music publishing company, talk about personal and professional matters weekly, she said.
Dragon, 73, lives in Prescott, Arizona, where he’s doing OK physically and is getting full-time care at home, Tennille said. “He has nothing that’s life-threatening. He’s probably going to outlive all of us. But it’s sad to me when I think of what Daryl could have been, what more he could have contributed.”
Tennille has family nearby in Florida. She gardens, she’s a birder and, yes, she plays piano every once in a while — but just for herself.
“You know, they called Harper Lee a recluse,” she said, “but she wasn’t. She had a life in her hometown with friends and family whom she loved and they loved her. And she was happy. And that’s my dream: to have a quiet life. To be happy. To have a life like Harper Lee did.”