Finally, the Abandoned Luncheonette from Hall & Oates’ point of view

Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette by  LP record cover released by Atlantic Records in 1973

It is the year 2013 and with it comes the 40th anniversary of the release of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ second album for Atlantic Records, Abandoned Luncheonette. When I posted the piece on the Abandoned Luncheonette I co-wrote with Matt Simmons back in August of 2010, (see…   in my mind it was the most personally satisfying as well as the ultimate tribute to a vinyl long playing record album (and cover) that had interested and intrigued me for decades and more than likely my favorite post I have ever done.

It also got the story of the diner and its owner (the Rosedale Diner and Bill Faulk) out there so everyone could see. The part of the story which was only touched upon was how Daryl Hall and John Oates knew about the old diner and how it came about being used in the photo shoot for the album cover. But as of this week that part of the story has now been written by my new friend, Michael Morsch. An experienced journalist, Mike Morsch has been executive editor of Montgomery Newspapers since 2003. His award-winning humor column “Outta Leftfield” has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, the Suburban Newspapers of America and the Philadelphia Press Association. So, without further ado here is Mikes piece on Hall & Oates and their take on the Abandoned Luncheonette!

Celebrating Hall & Oates’ DINER DAYS

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By Mike Morsch
Executive Editor

There was a time in the mid to late-1970s when fans and curiosity seekers would search out a dilapidated diner that sat in a wooded area just off Route 724 in Kenilworth. Souvenir hunters eventually picked apart the already long-ignored structure, which at one time had been the Rosedale Diner in Pottstown.

Daryl Hall still has some pieces of the old diner. “Fans came from all over the world. And unfortunately for the guy who owned it, they basically destroyed it, they ripped it apart tile by tile, piece by piece,” said Hall. “Somebody gave me some tiles from it over the years. I’ve gotten little pieces of it from fans. That’s really an unusual story.”

Indeed it is. But over the past 40 years, it’s remained an iconic story not only for the locals but for anyone who’s a fan of Daryl Hall and John Oates, the most successful duo in the history of rock ’n’ roll. That’s because the old Rosedale Diner, after it stopped being the Rosedale Diner on High Street in Pottstown and was moved outside of town and essentially left to die in East Coventry Township, became the “Abandoned Luncheonette” and a picture of it served as the cover art on Hall & Oates’ second album.

That album, also titled “Abandoned Luncheonette,” essentially put the local musicians — Hall from Pottstown and a graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School and Oates from North Wales and a graduate of North Penn High School — on the road to superstardom. It’s been 40 years since the now-iconic album’s release in 1973, and both Hall and Oates remain proud of the record. Oates goes as far as to say it’s his favorite Hall & Oates album ever.

“There’s something about it that’s very, very special,” said Oates in a recent interview from his home in Nashville. “You can’t plan something like that; it just happens. The very fact is that I’m playing the songs to this day and they sound just as good as the day we wrote them.” Both artists recall the significant role the diner played in the marketing of the album. Hall — born Daryl Hohl in Pottstown – remembers his parents taking him to the Rosedale Diner as a young boy when it was located on High Street. The diner’s owner was Talmadge W. “Bill” Faulk.

When Faulk closed the diner in the mid-1960s, he had the structure moved a few miles outside of Pottstown to some land he owned along Route 724. And its new resting place was right near where Daryl Hall’s grandmother lived. For Hall & Oates’ second album, Hall had written a song he called “Abandoned Luncheonette.” “If you look at the lyrics of that song, even as a kid I knew that only the strong survive,” said Hall in a recent interview from his home in New York. “I’ve used that theme — the strong give up and move on and the weak give up and stay — to say that the idea is that you have to make something of your life. You have to go for it. And I guess life has proven me right about that — at least in my case.”

Hall said the song is written about people who give up and people who do something with their lives. “It could have been called ‘Abandoned Lives.’ It was about people who gave up and wound up in the same place they started in, only not even as good.” He said that when it came time to name the album, he and Oates decided to call it “Abandoned Luncheonette.” And when they considered what the album cover would look like, Hall recalled the abandoned diner near his grandmother’s house outside of Pottstown. “So I said, ‘This place is all falling down. Let’s take a photographer up there and take a picture.’ So that’s what we did,” said Hall. “The cops came and threw us out because we were trespassing on somebody’s property. But we did manage to get the pictures and that’s where the concept of the cover came from. It didn’t really come from the song itself; it was just coincidental.”

In a news story that appeared in the Pottstown Mercury on Jan. 27, 1983, Faulk recalled the day in the summer of 1973 when “the two record kids” came to him and asked permission to take a photograph of the diner for the cover of their new album. “I knew the one boy, he was nice . . . poor like me,” Faulk said in the 1983 story, referring to Hall. “I said they could take a picture of it, but not go inside. It’s dangerous in there. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. They went inside anyway.” Forty years later, Oates confirms that account of the story. “We basically broke into the diner and took the picture that appears on the back of the album,” said Oates.

Oates added that the photographer, credited as “B. Wilson” on the inside sleeve of the album, was Barbara Wilson, his girlfriend at the time. She was a student then at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. A teacher of hers at the school worked with the album cover picture and gave it that “hand colored” look, according to Oates. “I look back and it’s one of the great album covers,” said Hall. “It was one of those things that just worked. It speaks as a piece of art, really. I kind of wish album covers were still around.”

Bill Faulk is also credited on the inside cover sleeve: “Luncheonette courtesy of The Man on Route 724.” The diner became a Pottstown attraction. But as Hall and Oates continued to rise to fame, fans from all over flocked to the diner to pick off pieces of it as souvenirs. It went from being merely dilapidated to being completely destroyed.

The 1983 Mercury story mentioned that representatives from the management company for Hall & Oates at the time had been in talks with Faulk to buy the diner. “I’d love to sell it,” said Faulk in the 1983 story. “It’s been destroyed by their fans over the years. They might as well buy it.” But the deal never went down, likely because the diner was in such bad condition by 1983.

“I was real glad to see the boys make it,” said Faulk at the time. “They sent me an autographed copy of the album and a T-shirt. From then on, everyone wanted a piece of it [the diner]. I was always chasing people away from it.” Hall said he doesn’t remember specifics on whether he and Oates wanted to buy the diner or what their level of interest in it was at the time. “I may have said that; I may have thought that [buying the diner],” said Hall. “But my relationship with the guy that owned the place was not the greatest. He sort of blamed me and John for destroying his property.”

Bill Faulk died in 2007 and the famous diner — which sat adjacent to the entrance of Towpath Park in East Coventry Township — was eventually demolished in the early 1980s in a controlled burn by Ridge Fire Company.

Another bit of rock ’n’ roll history — which diehard Hall & Oates fans will likely know — related to the “Abandoned Luncheonette” album involves the Oates-penned song “Las Vegas Turnaround.” According to Oates, he had met a flight attendant — they were called “stewardesses” back then — and a girlfriend on the street in New York sometime in the early 1970s and struck up a conversation with the two of them. The flight attendant’s name was Sara, and during their discussion, Sara mentioned that she and her friend were getting ready to do a “Las Vegas turnaround.” “I didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Oates. “They told me, ‘Oh, that’s where we take a group of gamblers out to Las Vegas and then we just turn around and come back.’ That’s the type of thing a songwriter hears and turns into a song.”

Oates would eventually introduce Sara Allen to Hall, the two of them would start a relationship that lasted more than 30 years and she would become the inspiration for the song “Sara Smile,” the duo’s first Top 10 hit reaching all the way to No. 4 in 1976. Unlike Oates, Hall won’t come right out and call “Abandoned Luncheonette” his favorite Hall & Oates album. But . . .  “It was one of my favorite experiences, I’ll say that,” said Hall. “I guess I would equate that with a favorite album.”

The link to the original article is here….

I am happy to say that Mike Morsch told me that the post that Matt Simmons and I wrote in 2010 was a huge help in him locating period stories in the archives of the local newspapers that aided him in his research for this story and the companion piece he wrote for American Songwriter Magazine below.  LAC

Hall & Oates: 40 Years of Abandoned Luncheonette

Written by February 14th, 2013

Daryl Hall and John Oates had a choice to make. They had released their debut album, Whole Oats, for Atlantic Records to little acclaim in November 1972.

A few months later, in early 1973, famed Philadelphia producer Kenny Gamble approached the duo and wanted them to work at Philadelphia International Records as songwriters and recording artists.

Philadelphia was a happening place in those days. It was the early stages of the creation of what is now known as “Philly soul” – sometimes called “the Philadelphia sound” – soul music that included funk influences and arrangements heavy on strings and horns.

Hall and Oates could stay in Philly and work for Gamble and Leon Huff at Philly International, or they could move to New York and make their second album for Atlantic Records.

“The idea was that we had all these obvious Philly influences, it was our baby food, it’s what we are,” said Hall. “John had a real grounding in the alternative Philly sound, which was very folksy. We wanted to combine two elements – my gospel R&B experiences and John’s folk experiences – and make a hybrid record that was sort of indicative of the sound of Philadelphia.”

And that’s what Abandoned Luncheonette was all about.

It’s been 40 years since the release of that album, and both Hall and Oates are as proud of it now as they were then. Oates doesn’t hesitate to call it his favorite Hall & Oates album.

“It’s a special album. It was a perfect storm of creativity for us,” said Oates in a recent interview from his home in Nashville. “It was the right producer (Arif Mardin) in the right studio with the right musicians and the right songs all at the same time. That seldom happens, but you hope it does. Fortunately for us it happened on our second album.”

The benefit of hindsight over the past 40 years has done little to change the belief of either artist that the primary reasons Abandoned Luncheonette has stood the test of time is that the songwriting was just that good and the musicians were just that talented.

“It was very much a Daryl and John album,” said Hall in a recent interview from New York marking the 40th anniversary of the release of the album. “We were really clicking as a creative team in those days. There are a lot of great John Oates moments on that album that still really impress me.

“But things sort of evolved after that. I took on more and the balance shifted of what our functions were within Hall & Oates. But in those days, we were just kids and we were just trying.”

Oates said that now, the songs sound innocent and simple.

“But the bottom line is they still sound good,” he said. “And that’s all that really matters. Whether it sounds like another person wrote them – which to me they kind of do – that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still play them and people still like them and they still sound good.

“And that’s the mark of a song to stand the test of time. It’s the ultimate goal for a songwriter. It’s what you hope for, the benchmark you go for every time you write a song. You don’t always attain it, but that’s your goal.”

Hall said that side one of Abandoned Luncheonette is the “magic” side. It includes one Hall-penned tune, “When the Morning Comes”; three by Oates, “Had I Known You Better Then,” “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “I’m Just a Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like a Man)”; and the co-written hit, “She’s Gone,” which was only moderately successful when it was first released as a single in 1974 but climbed to No. 7 on the charts when a remixed version was re-released in 1976 after the duo had moved to RCA Records and scored big with the hit single “Sara Smile.”

“On side one, there’s not a note on that body of work that isn’t just right,” said Hall, citing the environment in the Atlantic Records studio in which Abandoned Luncheonette was recorded.

“Aretha Franklin was walking in and out. Bob Dylan was walking in and out. Dr. John was nodding in and out. All the studio musicians were in the room regularly, and that’s the environment we cut this music in.”

Side two of the album has a different vibe, though, according to Hall. It features the influence of Chris Bond, a guitarist for Hall & Oates who wanted to be a producer. As the project progressed, Bond got more and more involved.

“Whenever you hear something that sounds Beatles-esque – when it’s obvious Beatles-esque  – you can trace that back to Chris Bond,” said Hall, who added that Bond is “an outrageously talented guitar player.”

“I have become a Beatles fan over the years, but back in 1972-73, I was not a gigantic Beatles fan. So to have that stuff as part of our arrangement was not really consistent with the character of what I wanted to do,” said Hall.

“In those days, he (Bond) was obsessed with the Beatles and I was not. So side two, if I could change anything, I’d just get rid of all that crap and let the songs be the songs.”

Side two of the album features the title track, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” written by Hall, the theme of which he said is that only the strong survive.

“It’s a song that could have been called ‘Abandoned Lives.’ It’s about people who gave up and wound up in the same place they started in, only not as good,” said Hall.

When it came time to come up with a name for the album, Hall suggested it be called Abandoned Luncheonette. He remembered that there was an abandoned diner that was near his grandmother’s house outside of Pottstown, PA. When Hall was a child, the eatery was called the Rosedale Diner and was located inside the Pottstown city limits. After closing in the mid-1960s to make room for a McDonald’s on the same site, the owner had the diner towed to the outskirts of town, where it sat unused for several years by the early 1970s.

“So I said, ‘This place is all falling down. Let’s take a photographer up there and take a picture.’ So that’s what we did,” said Hall. “The cops came and threw us out because we were trespassing on somebody’s property. But we did manage to get the pictures that we wanted, and that’s where the whole idea and the concept of the album cover came from. It really didn’t come from the song, it was just coincidental.”

One of those pictures did indeed become the album cover – the picture of the dilapidated diner – and another photo, of Hall & Oates sitting inside the diner, graces the back cover of the album. The photographer, by the way, was Oates’ girlfriend at the time, Barbara Wilson, who is credited as “B. Wilson” on the inside album sleeve. She was a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia at the time.

Unlike Oates, Hall won’t go as far as to say that Abandoned Luncheonette is his favorite Hall & Oates album.

“You can never look into the future, but I was proud of it at the time,” said Hall. “Would I have known that we’d be talking about it 40 years later? No, but I had the feeling it was going to be around for a while.

“But it was one of my favorite experiences, I’ll say that,” he said. “I guess I would equate that with a favorite album.”

The link to this original article is here…

Here is Mike Morsch’s blog post on how he came about writing the Abandoned Luncheonette piece…….

OUTTA LEFTFIELD: Getting Hall & Oates on the record about iconic album

People often ask me where story ideas and column topics come from and the simple answer is that sometimes they just happen when you least expect it.
Such was the case recently involving an old vinyl record. You can read about the 40th anniversary of the release of what’s become an iconic album, back when vinyl records was how we listened to our music, (see above).

In 1973, Daryl Hall and John Oates released their second studio album, “Abandoned Luncheonette.” Although it had only moderate success early on, Hall & Oates would eventually go on to superstardom and “Abandoned Luncheonette” is generally now considered one of their earliest masterpieces.
The historical rock and roll significance of the album is enhanced for those of us who live in this area because of the photo on the front of the album, which features an old, dilapidated diner that used to be known as the Rosedale Diner that sat at the corner of High and Rosedale Streets in Pottstown. That Hall and Oates are local guys — Oates was raised in North Wales and graduated from North Penn High School and Hall lived just outside of Pottstown and graduated from Owen J. Roberts High School — is a well-known fact to many in this area. And that is the backdrop to this story.

As a kid growing up in central Illinois, my folks had a record collection that consisted of a lot of popular music from the late 1950s and early to mid-1960s. I used to wear out albums by Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Association and many more. By the time the 1970s rolled around and I got to high school, I was more into eight-track tapes, cassettes, big bushy sideburns and bell-bottomed pants. (Seventies suave indeed.) I never had my own record collection.

It’s more than 35 years later now and I recently decided to change that. For Christmas last year, The Blonde Accountant got me a turntable because I wanted to start a record collection. My original premise was that I wanted to hear the early work of some of my favorite artists and my thinking was that listening to it on vinyl would offer me the purest form of the music. It has become a process for me. I spend some time researching a band and its music, choose an album I think I’d like to have in my collection, and then go to the record store in search of the album. Fortunately, there are still a few record stores around, and there’s a certain nostalgic charm to going into one and searching through the albums.

A few weeks ago I was on the trail of “Abandoned Luncheonette.” I suspect that since I didn’t grow up here on the East Coast, I was unaware of the early Hall & Oates stuff because it didn’t have wide penetration back then in the Midwest. So I had never really heard the entire album as a single body of work. Anyone who’s a treasure hunter of sorts — be it at an antique store, garage sale or baseball card show — knows the feeling of actually finding that one thing you’ve been searching for, and that’s what happened to me with “Abandoned Luncheonette.” It was sitting in plain sight in one of the bins, and I spotted it literally as I walked in the door of the Vinyl Closet, a delightful little record shop on Main Street in North Wales owned by Jason McFarland (

I got the album for $1 and it’s in fabulous shape. Naturally, I rushed home to play it on my new turntable and it’s absolutely wonderful. I was listening to the early stages of what we now know as “Philly soul” or the “sound of Philadelphia” and it was and is a really cool vibe. As I was examining the cover art, I flipped the record over and was reading the information on the back. There, at the bottom in small print were the words, “1973 Atlantic Recording Corporation.”

Hey, I thought to myself, this year is the 40th anniversary of the release of that album. I wonder if Daryl and John would want talk about it? And that’s how a story idea is born. All I needed to do was execute. Fortunately, I have interviewed both Hall and Oates several times over the years. I have a good relationship with their manager, Jonathan Wolfson, and he has without fail always honored my interview requests and hooked me up with both artists. Hall & Oates themselves have also both been gracious with their time and their willingness to answer my questions numerous times.

I emailed Wolfson and he responded the same day saying he thought that a story on the anniversary of “Abandoned Luncheonette” was “a great idea” and that he would make Daryl and John available for interviews. Within a week I had both artists on the phone in separate interviews. John apparently is getting used to talking to me, I guess, because he started the latest conversation with, “Hi Mike, here we go again, huh?” He added that he was unaware that it was the 40th anniversary of the album until the interview request had been made.

Both Daryl and John shared their recollections about making “Abandoned Luncheonette” and the story of how they got the now-famous photographs that grace the front and back covers of the album from a forgotten diner that once rested on the outskirts of Pottstown just off Route 724. You can read all about that in this week’s Ticket section.

It all started because I found an album at a local record store for a dollar, took it home and listened to it and discovered the early sounds of Philly soul. Everything old was new again.

Man, I love it when a plan comes full circle.

Here is the link to his blog……

I want to personally thank Mike Morsch for finally getting this story written. We both agree that between the August, 2010 Diner Hotline post and his pieces that the whole story about this iconic album has come full circle!

Mike Morsch is a freelance writer from suburban Philadelphia and the author of “Dancing in My Underwear: The Soundtrack of My Life.” see….