Alexander O'Neal

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Not to be confused with Alexandre O'Neill.
Alexander O'Neal
Alexander O'Neal 2014.jpg
O'Neal performing in 2014
Background information
Birth name Alexander O'Neal
Born (1953-11-15) November 15, 1953 (age 61)
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
  • Singer
  • arranger
  • songwriter
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1979–present
Associated acts

Alexander O'Neal (born November 15, 1953) is an American rhythm and blues singer, songwriter and arranger from Minneapolis, Minnesota. O'Neal came to prominence in the mid 1980s as a solo artist, releasing fourteen singles that entered the top forty charts in the United Kingdom during the 1980s and 1990s. His solo hits include "If You Were Here Tonight", "Fake", "Criticize", "The Lovers", "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me" and "All True Man." He is also known for duets with fellow R&B singer Cherrelle such as "Saturday Love" and "Never Knew Love Like This".

Early career[edit]

Alexander O'Neal was born in Natchez, Mississippi. After graduating from high school in Natchez, he attended Alcorn State University.[1] At age 20 he relocated to Minneapolis, where he performed with several bands including The Mystics and Wynd Chymes.[2][3] 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.[2][3]

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.[3] AllMusic profiler John Floyd asserts that O'Neal was ousted for "looking 'too black'."[4]

O'Neal subsequently formed an R&B band called Alexander and recorded a 12" single, "Playroom" for a Chicago independent label,[3] followed by the release of "Attitude" on the Rich Records label. In 1984 O'Neal signed a deal with Clarence Avant's Tabu Records.[1] He did some backing vocals for other artists on the same label, including The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle.

1985–2010: solo career[edit]

In 1985 O'Neal released his eponymous debut album under the production of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.[5] 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".[6] 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.[7]

In 2011 the TV One series Unsung profiled O'Neal's rise to fame, along with the story of Cherrelle.[8]

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.[9] On Day 12 O'Neal decided to leave the show.[10]


  1. ^ a b Ebony Man: EM. 6. Johnson Publishing Company, Incorporated. November 1990. p. 72. UP-FRONT Alexander O'Neal The All True Man Returns In much the same fashion that legendary Motown singer Marvin Gaye ... Upon finishing high school in Natchez, he attended predominantly Black Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi, before moving to . [...] In 1984, he inked a contract with Tabu/Epic Records, and the rest, as they say, is history. 
  2. ^ a b Robert E. Rosenthal; Portia K. Maultsby (1985). Who's who in Black music. Edwards Print. Co. p. 180. Performed with local bands The Mystics, Wynd Chymes, Enterprise, and Flyte Tyme before joining The Time under Prince's direction. The Time recorded "Ice Cream Castles," "The Bird," and "Jungle Walk." O'Neal then formed Alexander, ... 
  3. ^ a b c d Adam White; Fred Bronson (1993). The Billboard Book of Number One Rhythm & Blues Hits. Billboard Books. p. 393. ISBN 978-0-8230-8285-8. O'Neal was born in Natchez, Mississippi, but moved to Minneapolis when he was 20. He joined a ... After being replaced as lead vocalist by Morris Day, he formed a rock and roll band called Alexander. [...] O'Neal spent a short time in a group called Enterprise before being recruited into Flyte Tyme, a band that included Jam and Lewis as well as Monte Moir. 
  4. ^ Alexander O'Neal at AllMusic
  5. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (9 March 1985). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 33. ISSN 00062510. Alexander O'Neal's self-titled debut on Epic-distributed Tabu Records is quite impressive. ... Bred lo install Morris Day as lead singer of the Time, has a strong, masculine voice that is well produced by the Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis team with the aid of another ex-Time member, Monte Moir 
  6. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (22 February 2003). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 30. ISSN 00062510. 
  7. ^ Pete Lewis (August 2008). "ALEXANDER O`NEAL: Life swap!". 
  8. ^ Douglas, William (3 June 2011). "TV series puts ‘Unsung’ black music stars back in the spotlight". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Tufayel Ahmed. "Celebrity Big Brother's Alexander O'Neal given formal warning for homophobic slur word". Retrieved 2015-01-23. 
  10. ^ "Day 12: Alexander leaves the Celebrity Big Brother House". Retrieved 2015-01-23. 

External links[edit]