Alexander O'Neal (born 19 November 1953), is an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and arranger from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a career spanning more than 30 years, O'Neal is an accomplished soul and rhythm and blues singer. O'Neal came to pr...
Alexander O'Neal (born 19 November 1953), is an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and arranger from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a career spanning more than 30 years, O'Neal is an accomplished soul and rhythm and blues singer. O'Neal came to prominence in the middle of the 1980s as a solo artist, releasing fourteen singles that entered the top forty charts in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s. 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", "The Christmas Song", "All True Man", "Love Makes No Sense", "In the Middle" and ¨What's Missing¨. He is also known for duets with fellow R&B singer and Tabu labelmate Cherrelle such as "Saturday Love" and "Never Knew Love Like This". AllMusic has described O'Neal as having a "tough voice that has the same grain and range as that of Otis Redding."
O'Neal was born in Natchez, Mississippi. After graduating from high school in Natchez, he attended Alcorn State University. At age 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.
O'Neal released his debut album, the eponymous Alexander O'Neal in 1985. Since then, he has released eight studio albums, six compilation albums and one live album.
In 1981 O'Neal was signed by Prince to the Warner Bros. label and the band name was changed to The Time. Following a disagreement with Prince, O'Neal left the band and was replaced as lead singer by Morris Day.
O'Neal subsequently formed an R&B band called Alexander and recorded a couple 12" singles, "Do You Dare/Playroom" and "Attitude" for a Chicago area independent label, based in Merrillville, Indiana, called Erect Records.
In 1984 O'Neal signed a deal with Clarence Avant's Tabu Records. He did some backing vocals for other artists on the same label, including The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle.
1985-2010: solo career:
In 1985 O'Neal released his self-titled debut album under the production of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It included three singles that reached the top twenty of the R&B Singles Chart. The same year, he also scored his first R&B top ten single with "Saturday Love", a duet with Cherrelle from her High Priority album. The song "Saturday Love" peaked at #2 and also reached the top ten of the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #6.
In 1987 O'Neal released the album titled Hearsay, which yielded the #25 pop and the #1 R&B single "Fake". 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. By this time, O'Neal was enjoying greater success in the UK than he was in his native US. Hearsay peaked at #4 on the UK Albums Chart, eventually certifying as triple platinum, and spawning seven charting singles. The highest of these, "Criticize", peaked at #4 on the UK Singles Chart. "Fake" became a UK Top 40 hit twice, first in 1987 followed by a remix ("Fake '88") in 1988. The "Hit Mix" (a megamix of O'Neal's greatest hits to date) reached the UK Top 20 in December 1989. O'Neal also recorded a Christmas album, My Gift to You, which was released in December 1988.
In 1991, O'Neal released his fourth album, All True Man. The album's title single reached #5 on the R&B chart and #45 on the pop chart. The album was another success in the UK, peaking at #2, though sales did not reach the levels of his previous album. In 1992, his first greatest hits album, This Thing Called Love: The Greatest Hits of Alexander O'Neal, became another top five success in the UK.
In 1993, O'Neal's final album with the Tabu label, Love Makes No Sense, was released. This was the first album made without production from Jam and Lewis. Although it reached the UK Top 20 and two singles from the album reached the UK Top 40, sales were not as strong as his earlier releases. In 1995, another greatest hits compilation, The Best of Alexander O'Neal, was released.
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 2014, Alexander signed a new management deal with Howard Perl Management, Beverly Hills.
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.
In 2011 the TV One series Unsung profiled O'Neal's rise to fame, along with the story of Cherrelle.
In 2015 O'Neal took took part in the Channel 5 reality series Celebrity Big Brother. On Day 10 O'Neal was given a formal warning by Big Brother for his use of offensive language towards Perez Hilton. On Day 12 O'Neal decided to leave the show. On the same show, he also made his racially based hatred of Arabic people known.