Alan O'Day

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Alan O'Day
O'Day in 2007
O'Day in 2007
Background information
Birth nameAlan Earle O'Day
Born(1940-10-03)October 3, 1940
Hollywood, California, U.S.
DiedMay 17, 2013(2013-05-17) (aged 72)
Westwood, California, U.S.
GenresPop rock
Instrument(s)Vocals, keyboards
Years active1958–2013
LabelsPacific Records

Alan Earle O'Day (October 3, 1940 – May 17, 2013)[1][2] was an American singer-songwriter, best known for writing and singing "Undercover Angel," a million-selling Gold-certified American No. 1 hit in 1977.[3] He also wrote songs for many other notable performers, such as 1974's Helen Reddy No. 1 hit "Angie Baby" and the Righteous Brothers' No. 3 Gold hit "Rock and Roll Heaven".[4] In the 1980s he moved from pop music to television, co-writing nearly 100 songs for the Saturday morning Muppet Babies series, and in the 1990s he wrote and performed music on the National Geographic series Really Wild Animals. O'Day also collaborated with Tatsuro Yamashita on a series of popular songs in Japan including "Your Eyes", "Magic Ways", "Christmas Eve" and "Fragile" (which rapper Tyler, the Creator interpolated in "Gone, Gone / Thank You").

Life and career[edit]

Early years[edit]

O'Day was born in Hollywood, California, United States,[5] the only child of Earle and Jeannette O'Day, who both worked at the Pasadena Star-News. Earle took newspaper photos and did publicity for the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. Jeannette wrote for the Star News, as well as being a schoolteacher in Thermal, California, and other schools in the Coachella Valley.

O'Day stated that he remembered creating melodies on a xylophone at the age of six.[6] By the fifth grade, his favorite artist was Spike Jones, and he was serenading his classmates on the ukulele. At Coachella Valley Union High School, after participating in a band called The Imperials, he started his own rock'n'roll band, The Shoves, with heavy influences from Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Fats Domino, who appeared on KABC-TV/Los Angeles' Hub Talent Show on August 25, 1958. A third band, The Renés (O'Day, Oscar Arias, Eddie Arias, Ernie Gurrola, Sal Velasquez, Johnny Alvarez and Don Duarte), played Latin and Mexican standards mixed with rock and roll tunes and gave him the opportunity to write his own songs.[6] In 1958, R&B pioneer Johnny Otis auditioned the Renés after an auditioning singer they were backing didn't pass muster. Impressed with their playing and the O'Day compositions, Otis recorded and produced the band performing three O'Day originals and a few covers at El Dorado Studios in Hollywood over a few sessions, but the recordings were never released as all the members of the Renés were minors.[7]

In 1961, he found work via a friend from high school, Arch Hall Jr., whose father, Arch Hall Sr., was an independent movie producer. The senior Hall wrote and produced films that starred the junior Hall, and O'Day helped out with the sound, in 1962, acting as music editor on the film Eegah and musical director on Wild Guitar, sound recorder on 1963's The Sadist, and sound mixer on the 1964 What's Up Front! After Eegah, Arch Jr. and O'Day put together a four-piece band (called The Archers) played in clubs on the Sunset Strip such as Whisky a Go Go and Pandora's Box and served as the backing band for Dobie Gray.[7]

Around 1965, O'Day was in the band Alan & Bob & Denny, a show group that did pop songs and some comedy. They played nightclubs in the Pasadena and Hollywood area, and were on The Ed Sullivan Show on November 14, 1965, as the backup band for singer-actress-comedian Virginia O'Brien.


In 1969, he signed with E.H. Morris Music, followed by Warner Brothers Music in 1971, writing "The Drum", which became a hit single for Bobby Sherman. In 1974, three more of his songs did well: "Train of Thought", recorded by Cher, "Rock And Roll Heaven", recorded by The Righteous Brothers, and "Angie Baby", recorded by Helen Reddy.[5]

"Angie Baby" hit No. 1 at the end of December 1974 and became one of Reddy's biggest-selling singles. In a 2006 article, O'Day said the song took three months to write; originally, it was loosely based on the character in the Beatles' "Lady Madonna". To make the character ("Angie") more interesting, he based her on a neighbor girl he had known who seemed "socially retarded".[6] O'Day also thought of his own childhood; an only child who was often ill, many of his days were spent in bed with a radio to keep him company.[6] O'Day showed the unfinished song to his therapist, who pointed out that the character's reactions were not those of a retarded person; O'Day then switched Angie from mentally "slow" to "crazy".[6] This expanded to her living in a dream world of lovers, inspired by the songs on her radio. When an evil-minded neighbor tries to enter her room to take advantage of the girl, he is instead drawn into her reality, literally shrinking him down into her radio, "never to be found."

Solo career[edit]

O'Day released his first solo album, Caress Me Pretty Music in 1973. The album was not a major commercial success and he temporarily put his recording career on hiatus.

In 1977, Warner Bros. Records formed Pacific Records as a label for their composers who also performed.[5] O'Day was the first and only artist signed to the label, and its first release was "Undercover Angel."[5] The song, which he described as a "nocturnal novelette," was released in February 1977. Within a few months it had become No. 1 in the country, and has sold approximately two million copies. It was also a hit in Australia, reaching No. 9 on the Australian Singles Chart. ("Undercover Angel" also landed O'Day in an exclusive club as one of only a handful of writers/performers to pen a No. 1 hit for themselves and a No. 1 for another artist.)

A follow-up single, "Started Out Dancing, Ended Up Making Love" stalled at No. 73, marking O'Day's second and last appearance on the US chart. Three years later, in March 1980, a song called "Skinny Girls" reached No. 11 on the Australian Singles Chart. In 1981, O'Day co-wrote "Your Eyes" with singer-songwriter Tatsuro Yamashita, which became a hit in Japan. This was one of many collaborations between O'Day and Yamashita, including songs such as "Fragile" and "Theme From Big Wave".

O'Day left Warner Brothers in 1982 to write and self-publish. In 1983, he was invited to Tokyo to co-write six more songs with Yamashita for his album Big Wave. The collaboration yielded a Gold Disc Award in Japan.

In February 2013, the label 1st Phase Records released a new album titled Make Me Believe. Co-produced by Alan O'Day and Ken Kaufman featuring country music recording artist Paul Scott, including two new original songs co-written by O'Day: "Uh-Uh (What She Wants)," and an unofficial NASCAR national anthem titled "NASCAR CRAZY". NASCAR Crazy" is a co-write by Alan O'Day and Ken Kaufman.


In 1983, O'Day met San Francisco's singer-songwriter Janis Liebhart, with whom he co-wrote a children's song for a new Saturday morning animated TV show, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies. Within eight years they had written almost 100 songs for the program, which won an Emmy Award, and has since been syndicated internationally.

The collaboration continued after Muppet Babies, as O'Day and Liebhart co-wrote for other children-focused projects, including National Geographic's Really Wild Animals, a series of videos which they helped produce and on which they also sang. They also worked on some children's products for Alaska Video.

O'Day lived in Nashville, to write and perform, and was also a musical and creative consultant. In 2012, he wrote and sang the title tune for the film, You Don't Say.


O'Day died on May 17, 2013, in Westwood, California after a battle with brain cancer.[2][8] His interment was at Coachella Valley Public Cemetery in Coachella, California.




  • 1973: Songs by Alan O'Day (vol. 1)
  • 1973: Caress Me Pretty Music
  • 1977: Appetizers
  • 1979: Oh Johnny!
  • 1994: Music from National Geographic's Really Wild Animals, (Janis Liebhart & Alan O'Day)
  • 2001: Undercover Angel 2001 (City Man Music, BMI, Warner/Chappell Music, ASCAP 634479217920)
  • 2008: I Hear Voices


  • 1964: "I Want a Girl for Xmas" (as Alan O'Day & the Knights)
  • 1970: "Heavy Church" / "House on Sunrise Avenue" (co-produced by Snuff Garrett)
  • 1973: "Somewhere She Is Sleeping" (produced by Dallas Smith)
  • 1977: "Undercover Angel" / "Just You" (#1 U.S., #1 CAN, #4 NZ, #9 AUS,[9] #43 UK[10])
  • 1977: "Started Out Dancing, Ended Up Making Love" / "Angie Baby" (#73 U.S., #39 NZ,[11] #72 CAN[12])
  • 1977: "Soldier of Fortune" (#103 U.S.[13])
  • 1978: "Satisfied"
  • 1979: "Oh Johnny!" / "People Who Talk to Themselves" (#124 U.S.[14])
  • 1980: "Skinny Girls" / "Oh Johnny!" (#11 AUS,[9] #110 U.S.[15]) (above six produced by Steve Barri)
  • 2008: "I Hear Voices"
  • 2012: "You Don't Say"



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alan Earle Oday, Born 10/03/1940 in California |". Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "'Undercover Angel' Singer Alan O'Day Dead at 72". Billboard. May 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "'Undercover Angel' Singer Alan O'Day Dead at 72". Billboard. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  4. ^ Seida, Linda. "Biography: Alan O'Day". Allmusic. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Larkin, Colin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1851. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Alan O'Day". Retrieved August 19, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Linna, Marian (2005). Liner Notes of "Wild Guitar" CD. Norton Records.
  8. ^ "Alan O'day | Singer Alan O'day Dies |". May 19, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  9. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 221. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 404. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - November 12, 1977" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Singles Chart". Cashbox. December 10, 1977.
  14. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. November 24, 1979.
  15. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. February 23, 1980.
  16. ^ "BMI | Songview Search". Retrieved January 24, 2023.
  17. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. May 12, 1973.
  18. ^ "Singles chart". Cashbox. September 23, 1973.
  19. ^ "R&B Singles Chart". Cashbox. July 20, 1974.
  20. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. October 25, 1975.
  21. ^ "Original versions of Easy Evil by Sarah Vaughan". Retrieved October 2, 2021.
  22. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. December 1, 1973.
  23. ^ "Singles Chart". Cashbox. July 28, 1973.
  24. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. September 7, 1974.
  25. ^ "Singles Chart". Record World. July 6, 1974.

External links[edit]