Daryl Dragon, the musician best known as the “Captain” in the ’70s and ’80s husband-and-wife duo The Captain and Tennille, died today (January 3rd), his publicist announced in a statement. He passed due to kidney failure at the age of 76.

A classically trained pianist, Dragon got his start as a backup musician for the Beach Boys in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, thus starting his successful 54-year career. Mike Love gave him the nickname “Captain of the Keyboards” after the California native started wearing his signature captain’s hat while performing.

Dragon met his future wife and collaborator Toni Tennille in 1971, when she hired him to play piano for a musical called Mother Earth. In return, he recommended her for a position with the Beach Boys, and the pair soon began performing together in small clubs and other venues around Southern California.

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The title track from their debut album, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” reached the top of the Billboard chart in July 1975 and won a Grammy for Record of the Year. Their other top 10 hits included  “Muskrat Love,” “The Way I Want to Touch You,” “Lonely Night (Angel Face)” and “Shop Around.” “He was a brilliant musician with many friends who loved him greatly. I was at my most creative in my life, when I was with him,” Tennille said in a statement.

Dragon is survived by his brother, Doug Dragon, and two nieces, Kelly Arbout and Renee Henn of California. 

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