|Nationality||United States of America|
|Genres||contemporary R&B · funk · soul music · rock music · synth-pop · new wave|
|Born||November 15, 1953|
Natchez, Mississippi, U.S.
|Origin||Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
O'Neal came to prominence in the mid-1980s as a solo artist, with eleven Top 40 singles on the US R&B chart, three of which also reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. However, he enjoyed more mainstream success in the United Kingdom, achieving fourteen Top 40 singles on the UK Singles Chart between 1985 and 1996, along with three top ten albums on the UK Albums Chart.
His solo singles, sometimes dealing with lost love, include "If You Were Here Tonight", "Fake", "Criticize", "The Lovers", "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me", "All True Man", "Love Makes No Sense" and "In the Middle". He is also known for duets with Tabu labelmate Cherrelle such as "Saturday Love" and "Never Knew Love Like This". AllMusic described O'Neal as having a "tough voice [that] has the same grain and range as that of Otis Redding." At the age of 20, he relocated to Minneapolis, where he performed with several bands including the Mystics and Wynd Chymes. He became a member of Enterprise for a brief period before joining Flyte Tyme, a band which included Monte Moir, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It included three singles that reached the Top 20 of the R&B Singles Chart. The same year, he also scored his first R&B Top 10 single with "Saturday Love", a duet with Cherrelle from her High Priority album. The song peaked at #2 on the R&B chart and #26 on the pop chart, while also beginning a string of UK hit singles for O'Neal by peaking at #6 on the UK Singles Chart in early 1986. This UK success continued when "If You Were Here Tonight", which had previously peaked at #81, re-entered the charts to reach #13 in March 1986.
In 1987, O'Neal released the album Hearsay, which was certified gold in the US and yielded his biggest US hit in "Fake", which topped the R&B chart and reached #25 on the pop chart. The song also peaked at #7 on the Billboard dance chart. The follow-up single, "Criticize", peaked at #4 on the R&B chart and #70 on the pop chart. The third single, "Never Knew Love Like This", another duet with Cherrelle, peaked at #2 on the R&B chart and #28 on the pop chart. However, by this time O'Neal was enjoying much greater success in the UK,
In 1991, O'Neal released his fourth album, All True Man. In 1995, another greatest hits compilation, The Best of Alexander O'Neal, was released. A year later the compilation was re-released with three added tracks from O'Neal's short period with Motown.
In 1996, his first album with One World Records, Lovers Again, was released. The album did not chart in the UK, though the single "Let's Get Together" reached the UK Top 40. In 2001, he released an album on Eagle Records, Saga of a Married Man. The album was produced by former Prince drummer, Bobby Z. In 2005, he recorded his first live album, Alexander O'Neal Live at Hammersmith Apollo, featuring songs from throughout his career.
In 2008, O'Neal released Alex Loves..., his first studio album in six years. The album peaked at #49 in the UK, and was his first charting album of new material in 15 years.
In June 2016, O'Neal collaborated with Manchester-based funk band, Mamma Freedom, on the single, "Fake", a re-recording of his 1987 single of the same name. The single was released shortly before O'Neal embarked upon a UK tour, with Mamma Freedom providing support.
In 2017, O'Neal collaborated with Manchester-based funk band Mamma Freedom on the album "Hearsay30", a re-recording of his 1987 album. The album was released on December 1, 2017.
In 2021, O'Neal made an appearance alongside Whyso, O'Mega Red, and J Dore of The High Children on "Say His Name," a song dedicated to the memory of George Floyd.
Television[edit | edit source]
In 2006 O'Neal appeared on the Weakest Link, All Singing All Dancing Edition, where he was the 5th contestant voted off the show. In 2006 and 2007, O'Neal participated on the British reality singing contest show Just the Two of Us. In 2008 O'Neal took part in a Wife Swap UK special, swapping his wife Cynthia with broadcaster and TV personality Jilly Goolden. The programme included an in-depth interview with O'Neal by noted UK R&B writer Pete Lewis of the award-winning magazine Blues & Soul. The interview was featured in full in the August 2008 issue of the magazine.
Honors and awards[edit | edit source]
O'Neal was honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue, recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue. Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis," according to journalist Steve Marsh.
Discography[edit | edit source]
- Alexander O'Neal (1985)
- Hearsay (1987)
- My Gift to You (1988)
- All True Man (1991)
- Love Makes No Sense (1993)
- Lovers Again (1996)
- Saga of a Married Man (2002)
- Alex Loves... (2008)
- Five Questions: The New Journey (2010)
- Hearsay 30 (2017)
Tours[edit | edit source]
- 30 Years of Hearsay Tour (2017)