Daryl Dragon, of pop duo Captain and Tennille, dies at 76

Daryl Dragon, who was "The Captain" of 1970s pop duo The Captain and Tennille, has died at age 76.

The Captain and Tennille had run of easy-listening hits, including chart-topping Love Will Keep Us Together

Toni Tennille, left, and Daryl Dragon, of the pop duo The Captain and Tennille are shown in New York in this Aug. 22, 2001, file photo. Dragon died Wednesday of renal failure at the age of 76. (Tina Fineberg/Associated Press)

Daryl Dragon — the cap-wearing "Captain" of pop duo The Captain and Tennille, who teamed with then-wife Toni Tennille on such easy listening hits as Love Will Keep Us Together and Muskrat Love — has died at age 76.

Dragon died Wednesday of renal failure at a hospice in Prescott, Ariz., according to publicist Harlan Boll.

Tennille was by his side.

"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 and Tennille divorced in 2014 after nearly 40 years of marriage, but they remained close and Tennille had moved back to Arizona to help care for him.

Dragon and his then-wife Tennille hold the Grammy award they won for record of the year for Love Will Keep Us Together in this Feb. 28, 1976, file photo. (Associated Press)

Dragon and Tennille met in the early 1970s and soon began performing together, with Tennille singing and Dragon on keyboards. (He would later serve as The Captain and Tennille's producer). Their breakthrough came in 1975 when they covered the Neil Sedaka-Howard Greenfield song Love Will Keep Us Together, which Sedaka himself recorded in 1973 and had been released as a single in Europe.

The Captain and Tennille version topped the charts — and acknowledged Sedaka's authorship by singing "Sedaka's back" at the end of the song — and won a Grammy for record of the year. They followed with a mix of covers such as Muskrat Love and Shop Around, and original songs, including Tennille's Do That to Me One More Time, which hit No. 1 in 1980. They also briefly starred in their own television variety show.

Classically trained but preferred boogie

A Los Angeles native, Dragon was the son of Oscar-winning composer Carmen Dragon and singer Eloise Dragon, and was himself a classically trained musician.

Before he was with Tennille, he was a backup keyboard player for the Beach Boys in the mid-1960s and early '70s. He was dubbed "The Captain" by singer Mike Love, who noted Dragon's fondness for wearing sailor caps while performing.

He also played with Fats Domino and B.B. King.

  Tennille said in a 2010 blog post that Dragon was suffering from an unspecified neurological condition that gave him hand tremors, seriously affecting his ability to play keyboards. Dragon said in 2017 that his problems were a result of medication and that he was better.

An obituary notice posted Wednesday said that at Dragon's request, there would be no funeral services, and suggested donations to organizations conducting research into neurological conditions.

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

With files from Reuters