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Apr 20, 2016

Toni Tennille: A Memoir is an okay title for the Alabama native’s life story, but once you read it to the end, you might agree with me that “Toni Tennille: Happy At Last” is more fitting. I cannot deny that I had low expectations as I began reading the autobiography of this singer who I always adored as a teen and held on to over the decades as a guilty pop pleasure. The glamour, the celebrity friends, parties, etc. – ho-hum, we’ve certainly heard it all before. But trust me, you haven’t heard this story.

TONI TENNILLE podcast excerpt: "I cannot blame Daryl for the kind of man he is. He was raised quite differently from the way I was; he was raised in a family that was very dysfunctional. My dad was a binge drinker. But there was no doubt that he adored me and my sisters and that he loved my mom and my mother loved us as well.Daryl was raised in a family that had lots and lots of difficult issues. His father, Carmen Dragon, was an Academy Award-winning film scorer and symphony composer. He was 'The Maestro' -- a handsome, charismatic man. But when Daryl and I started to have some hits and Daryl's name got out there, I think (Carmen) might have been jealous of his own son. He would say say to people, 'Yeah, that's The Captain and Tennille. I'm The Admiral!' just so people knew he was bigger and better than Daryl was.”

If, like me, you are old enough to remember The Captain and Tennille as a top of the charts recording and touring sensation, you’ll remember Toni Tennile’s soaring vocals, her Southern charm and her big as all-outdoors smile. As for The Captain – Daryl Dragon, the former keyboardist for The Beach Boys – what you’ll recall of him was that he rarely spoke while glowering at his wife and everyone else most of the rest of the time. He always wore a hat, eventually hiding behind sunglasses, too. I spent a lifetime thinking it was an act. Toni Tennille spent a lifetime wishing it was an act.

TONI TENNILLE podcast excerpt: "I have to point out that it's 'Do THAT to Me One More Time.' It's not 'Do IT to Me One More Time'! That's why lyrics are important. It's 'Kiss me.' And 'Say that to me again' -- instead of what other people may think!"

Turns out, The Captain was a miserable wretch of a human being and spent decades treating his wife like crap. Reading Toni Tennille: A Memoir is a soul-crushing experience; turning each page you’ll find yourself screaming, “Toni! Get away from that bastard!” But as anyone who has ever suffered emotional abuse at the hands of a spouse knows, it’s not always easy to make a clean break.

I’m glad I read Toni Tennile: A Memoir; I’m even happier to know that the subject of the book is finally free.

Key interview moments:

• 4:40 Toni Tennille describes her rough road with former husband Daryl Dragon -- The Captain in The Captain and Tennille -- but refuses to blame him or play the victim. Instead she blames his father, Academy Award-winning composer Carmen Dragon;

• 23:45 Why has Toni Tennille dedicated "Muskrat Love" to former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger at every performance still 1974?;

• 37:25 Toni clears the air about the title and content of the song "Do That to Me One More Time." Got it?

Toni Tennille WebsiteFacebookTwitter • YouTube • IMDB • WikipediaDiscogs

The Captain and Tennille WebsiteWikipedia