With divorce rates skyrocketing and the sexual revolution in full bloom, it seemed like dark days ahead for the American marriage in the mid-1970s. Even Sonny and Cher—America’s favorite husband and wife—were coming apart at the seams on national television, making an institution as old as society itself look very vulnerable indeed. And then along came the Captain and Tennille, just at the moment when it seemed America needed reminding that such a thing as wedded bliss might actually exist. Like a walking, talking, singing advertisement for the rewards of settled monogamy, Captain & Tennille burst onto the scene when their debut single, "Love Will Keep Us Together,” began its rapid climb up the U.S. pop charts on this day in 1975.
Toni Tennille and Daryl Dragon were not yet married when “Love Will Keep Us Together” rose up the charts to become the first of the duo’s two #1 hits. They made their arrangement legal, however, in November 1975 and went on to become the must successful husband-and-wife duo since the aforementioned Bonos, notching seven top-10 singles in the subsequent five years, including “The Way I Want To Touch You,” “You Never Done It Like That” and “Do That To Me One More Time.” Between the titles of those hit songs, their evident fondness for each other and their irresistible image—she with the shiny hair and perfect teeth, and he with a captain’s hat that spoke of limitless nautical possibilities—the Captain and Tennille made marriage look and sound kind of sexy, of all things. And far from being an act for the public’s benefit, their happy marriage is going strong more than three decades after their breakthrough.
It is well worth taking note of the rarity of that accomplishment. Several other prominent pop groups in the last 50 years have consisted of or included married couples—ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, the Mamas and the Papas and Ike and Tina Turner come to mind. Add to that list one more group, the Starland Vocal Band (of “Afternoon Delight” fame), and you’ve got seven divorces out of seven marriages right there. Along with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, and Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., the Captain and Tennille are in rare company for managing to combine the rigors of maintaining a happy marriage with the stresses of pop stardom, which they achieved on this day in 1975.