Toni Tennille

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Toni Tennille
Tennille in 1996
Tennille in 1996
Background information
Birth nameCathryn Antoinette Tennille
Born (1940-05-08) May 8, 1940 (age 84)
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
GenresPop, jazz
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
Years active1971–2016
Formerly ofCaptain & Tennille

Cathryn Antoinette "Toni" Tennille[1] (born May 8, 1940) is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist. A contralto, she is best known as one-half of the 1970s duo Captain & Tennille with her former husband Daryl Dragon; their signature song is "Love Will Keep Us Together."[2][3] Tennille also did musical work independently of Dragon, including solo albums and session work.

Early life[edit]

Tennille was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, and has three younger sisters.[4]: 2  Her father Frank owned a furniture store and also served in the Alabama Legislature from 1951 to 1954.[4]: 2  He had been a singer with Bob Crosby's Bob-Cats. For five years, her mother, also named Cathryn (née Wright), hosted a daily television show in Montgomery.[1][5][6]

Tennille graduated from Sidney Lanier High School and then for two years attended Auburn University in Alabama,[1] where she studied classical piano and sang with a local big band, the Auburn Knights.

In 1959, after her father's furniture store failed, Tennille's family moved from Montgomery to Balboa, California, where she worked first as a file clerk and then as a statistical analyst for North American Rockwell Corporation.[4]: 2 


Tennille performing in the White House in 1976

While living in Corona del Mar in Newport Beach, California, during the late 1960s, Tennille was a member of the South Coast Repertory. Ron Thronsen, one of the directors of the repertory, asked Tennille in 1969 to write the music for a new rock musical he was working on called Mother Earth. The musical was a success locally, went on the road to San Francisco and Los Angeles in 1971, and eventually made it to Broadway for a few dates at the Belasco Theatre in October 1972. Although Tennille was no longer associated with the musical by the time it reached Broadway, she was credited as the composer under her married name, Shearer.[7][8][9][10]

In 1971, Tennille met her future husband Daryl Dragon in San Francisco during auditions for Mother Earth.[7] Dragon had previously toured with The Beach Boys and had recorded with them as a studio musician. After Mother Earth ended, Dragon returned to the Beach Boys and introduced Tennille to the band.[8] Tennille played electric piano with the band during their 1972 tour.[5] In 1973, Tennille and Dragon left to form Captain & Tennille and began performing at local clubs. In September 1973, they released their self-financed debut single, "The Way I Want to Touch You", which was a local hit and helped them to get a record contract with A&M Records. The duo recorded a cover version of the Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield song "Love Will Keep Us Together" in 1975 that became a huge success and eventually went on to win the 1975 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.[8][11]

In 1974, Tennille sang background vocals on Elton John's Caribou album.[5]

She made a guest appearance on "The Love Boat" Season 2 Episode 5, which aired on 10/20/1978.

In 1979, she sang backing vocals on Pink Floyd's The Wall.[12][13]

On July 8, 1980, Tennille sang the national anthem at the Major League Baseball All-Star game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.[14]

Following a December 1979 pilot, from September 1980 to February 1981 Tennille hosted her own syndicated television talk show, The Toni Tennille Show.[15][16]

From September 1998 to June 1999, Tennille performed as "Victoria Grant/Count Victor Grazinski" in the national tour of the play Victor Victoria.[17]

With her then-husband Daryl Dragon, as Captain & Tennille, she recorded the Christmas song "Saving Up Christmas" included in their DVD box set for 1976-1977's The Captain & Tennille Show; this was followed by a full-length Christmas album titled The Secret of Christmas, released in 2007.

In April 2016, Tennille released her memoir, Toni Tennille: A Memoir, and went on a book tour to promote it later that summer.[18][19] An audiobook of the memoir was also released on the audiobook service Audible.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Tennille and Dragon in 1976

Tennille married her first husband, former drummer Kenneth Shearer, in June 1962 at the age of 22.[5] They divorced in late 1972. The divorce was civil and they remained on amicable terms. She then married Daryl Dragon on February 14, 1974.[21] Tennille stated that their accountant told them they would do "a lot better with taxes" if they were married.[21] The couple moved from Reno, Nevada, to Prescott, Arizona, in 2007. They divorced in July 2014.

In 2015, Tennille moved to Florida at the suggestion of her sister Jane.[22] During the promotion of her autobiography on The Today Show in the spring of 2016, Tennille said the reason for their divorce was Dragon's "inability to be affectionate."[21] In her memoir, Tennille revealed that despite their success and public image of a solid marriage, she was lonely and isolated. Dragon had been controlling and emotionally distant; throughout their relationship they slept in separate bedrooms. "I can say without exaggeration that he showed no physical affection for me during our very long marriage," she said.[23] She reported that Dragon reacted positively to her memoir and the revelation by saying, "I saw you on The Today Show. I was proud of you."[24]

Despite their divorce, Tennille and Dragon remained friends until his death from kidney failure on January 2, 2019.[25] Dragon stated in a February 2017 interview with People that Tennille had returned to Arizona to assist him following a serious health-related incident he had experienced the previous year.[26]


Studio albums[edit]

  • More Than You Know (Mirage, 1984)[4]
  • Moonglow (Purebred, 1986)
  • All of Me (Gaia, 1987)[4]
  • Do It Again (USA Music Group, 1988) [27]
  • Never Let Me Go (Bay Cities, 1991)
  • Things Are Swingin (Purebred, 1994)[28]
  • Tennille Sings Big Band (Honest, 1996)
  • Incurably Romantic (Varèse Sarabande, 2001)[29]


  1. ^ a b c "Toni recalls days in Alabama". The Gadsden Times. Associated Press. August 4, 1980. Retrieved October 20, 2016 – via Google News.
  2. ^ "An MP misses a 'million-dollar' photo op, and 'Captain' Dragon and Toni Tennille call it quits". Maclean's. January 29, 2014.
  3. ^ "Love Will Keep Us Together". Super Seventies. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Herman, Jan (April 10, 1988). "Toni Tennille: No Hits but 'Always Sold Out'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 21, 2016. In fact, her two latest albums--"More Than You Know" (1984) and "All of Me" (1987)--feature jazz-oriented renditions of Tin Pan Alley tunes from the '30s and '40s.
  5. ^ a b c d Windeler, Robert (October 18, 1976). "Year of the Dragons". People. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Tennille, Toni (December 24, 1980). "WMAQ Channel 5 - The Toni Tennille Show - "Peaches and Herb" (Complete Broadcast, 12/24/1980)". YouTube. 35:44–35:52 mark (timestamp): The Museum of Classic Chicago Television (www.FuzzyMemories.TV). Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved November 14, 2019. In Montgomery, Alabama, on WSFA TV... mother had a talk show and she was on for five years. She produced her own show and she was the star of it and it was on live everyday.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  7. ^ a b Smith, Mark Chalon (September 15, 1998). "Touring Is Such a Drag". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c "Artists: Captain & Tennille". Billboard. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  9. ^ Barret, Lawrence I. (November 6, 1972). "The Theater: Life-Giving Illusion". Time. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  10. ^ "Mother Earth". Playbill. October 19, 1972. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "1975 - 18th Annual Grammy Awards". The Recording Academy. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  12. ^ "Musicians (Studio)". Pink Floyd. Warner Music UK. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  13. ^ Blake, Mark (2008). Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. Da Capo Press. pp. 270–271. ISBN 978-0-306-81752-6. Retrieved October 21, 2016 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Rockwell, Bart (1993). World's Strangest Baseball Stories. Watermill Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-816-72850-3.
  15. ^ "The Toni Tennille Show - Episode Guide". Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. The Toni Tenille Show (ended 1981). Air date: September 15, 1980 (Episode 1).
  16. ^ Rina Fox; TV Guide / Library of Congress (telnet://; Internet Movie Database (; UCLA Film and Television Archive / Writers Guild of America (wga) (March 2019). "CTVA US Talk/Variety - "The Toni Tennille Show" (Synd)(1980-81)". ctva. Retrieved May 30, 2019. Daily Monday to Fridays Daytime 4-5pm, Hour long program (15-Sep-1980 to 27-Feb-1981)
  17. ^ Lefkowitz, David (August 1, 1998). "Toni Tennille Vic/Vic Tour Announces 1999 Dates". Playbill. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Love, Angela (July 9, 2016). "Captain and Tennille fans enjoy musical memories with singer in Villages". The Villages, Florida. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  19. ^ Tennille, Toni (October 23, 2015). "Toni Tennille: A Memoir – coming soon!". Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  20. ^ "Behind the Scenes with Toni Tennille, Author and Narrator of Toni Tennille: A Memoir". Audible. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 10, 2016. Go into the studio with Toni Tennille as she performs her memoir and shares stories of her life in music.[dead YouTube link]
  21. ^ a b c Dawn, Randee (April 24, 2016). "Toni Tennille reveals the personal reason why she divorced Daryl Dragon". Today. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  22. ^ Tennille, Toni (September 30, 2015). "Coming Home". Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  23. ^ Chaney, Jen (April 6, 2016). "'Toni Tennille': Her happy marriage with the Captain was a lie". The Washington Post.
  24. ^ Tennille, Toni (May 7, 2016). "TONI TENNILLE! Love Will Keep Us Together! Creative Arts Emmys 2016". LGBT Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved May 11, 2016. But I do know this... He said 'I saw you on The Today Show. I was proud of you.' And Caroline was with me in the back of the car and we both kinda teared up a bit. He is proud of me, and he's proud of the music.
  25. ^ Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tennille Dies at 76 NBC Miami, January 2, 2019
  26. ^ Chiu, Melody (February 11, 2017). "Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tennille Clears Up Rumors About His Health: 'I Am Not Under Hospice Care'". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  27. ^ "Toni Tennille – Do It Again". Discogs. November 13, 1988.
  28. ^ Giuliano, Mike (May 17, 1994). "Now Tennille looks to big-band era for love songs". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 22, 2016. With several big band albums to her credit, including the just-released Things Are Swingin (...)
  29. ^ "Toni, Toni, Toni". Las Vegas Sun. April 6, 2001. Retrieved October 22, 2016. 'Incurably Romantic,' her latest CD, featuring old love-song standards written by artists such as the Gershwins and Sammy Cahn, is scheduled for release in May.


External links[edit]