Sharon O'Neill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sharon O'Neill
Birth nameSharon Lea O'Neill
Born (1952-11-23) 23 November 1952 (age 69)
Nelson, New Zealand
GenresRock, pop, new wave
Occupation(s)Singer, musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1970–present
LabelsSony, Polydor

Sharon Lea O'Neill[1] (born 23 November 1952)[2] is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and pianist, who had an Australasian hit single in 1983 with "Maxine" which reached No. 16 on both the Australian Kent Music Report and Recording Industry Association of New Zealand charts.[3][4][5]


1960s–1977: Career beginnings[edit]

Sharon O'Neill is a self taught musician who learned to play guitar by ear and started composing at an early age, by putting chords to her poetry. She began playing the acoustic guitar around Nelson in the 1960s.[6]

O'Neill began recording with Robin Winch and Nancy Richman under the name Suitewater. An entry into the 1970 Mobil Song Quest, saw Sharon & Nancy make the finals with a song called "Life Upon Life" written by O'Neill. Another of her songs, "Nothing Makes It Easy", got her to the finals of the New Faces television talent show in 1972 In 1972, O'Neill released "Love Song" a Lesley Duncan cover on Ode Records. Between 1972 and 1977 O'Neill joined New Zealand band Chapta, a covers band called Jessica, and a rock-pop band called Shiner. In 1977, encouraged by Shiner guitarist and future husband Brent Thomas, O'Neill began concentrating on song writing.[6] O'Neill was featured on the track "If There's Still a Little Love" on Mark Williams' 1977 album Taking It All in Stride, with the song also featuring on Mark Williams Greatest Hits compilation album released in late 1977. O'Neill also supported Williams on tour.

1978–1983: CBS Records[edit]

In 1978, O'Neill performed the track "Luck's on Your Table" on the New Zealand TV show The Entertainers, where she finished third. She subsequently signed to CBS Records and released "Luck's on the Table" in September 1978. It reached number 27 on the New Zealand singles chart and was included on her debut album This Heart This Song, which was released in February 1979. In June 1979, O'Neill released "Don't Say No to Tomorrow", which was featured on a Telethon. It reached number 6 on the charts. That same year she received an APRA Silver Scroll Award for the song "Face in a Rainbow" from her debut album. O'Neill won best female artist at the New Zealand Music Awards in 1978, and 1979. In February 1980, O'Neill released her second studio album titled Sharon O'Neill, which peaked at number 3. At the 1980 New Zealand Music Awards, O'Neill won her third Female Artist of the Year as well as her first Album of the Year. The album gained moderate success in Australia with the hit "Words" (AUS #56) and the subsequent singles "Asian Paradise" (AUS #76) and "How Do You Talk to Boys" (AUS #25). O'Neill joined Jon Stevens on a duet called "Don't Let Love Go", which reached number 5 in New Zealand in March 1980.

O'Neill's third studio album Maybe was released in October 1981. It produced the hits "Waiting for You" and "Maybe" (AUS #38). O'Neill supported Boz Scaggs on his Australian tour before she moved to Australia to settle.[7] O'Neill provided the soundtrack to Roger Donaldson's 1982 movie Smash Palace. It was a five-track extended play and won Best Film Soundtrack/Cast Recording/Compilation at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards.

O'Neill's fourth studio album Foreign Affairs was released in May 1983. It contained the tracks "Losing You" (AUS #26) and "Maxine" (AUS #16),[4] a song which chronicled the life of a Kings Cross prostitute.[8] In a 2016 interview, O'Neill said: "I was living in a hotel in Kings Cross when I got the inspiration to write 'Maxine'. She was always out there working at 3am when we'd get home bleary-eyed from a gig."[7] Foreign Affairs was certified gold in New Zealand.[9]

1984–1999: Polydor Records and compilations[edit]

A legal battle with her then-record company CBS caused a delay in her career.[2] In 1984, CBS budget label J&B released a best of collection titled So Far. During the enforced hiatus, O'Neill wrote songs for ABC's 1984 TV series Sweet and Sour including the title song performed by Deborah Conway (later recorded by O'Neill as "In Control") and "Glam to Wham".[1] She wrote "Blood Red Roses" for the movie soundtrack of "Street Hero" and music for "Dancing Daze". O'Neill met American keyboardist and songwriter Alan Mansfield on Dragon's Body and the Beat Tour of New Zealand in 1984—they later became domestic and professional partners.[10]

In October 1987, O'Neill returned with her fifth studio album Danced in the Fire on Polygram,[2] which featured some biographical songs about her legal wrangles with CBS. "Physical Favours" peaked at number 25 in New Zealand and 39 in Australia. In 1988, CBS Records released a series of four-track EPs; Volume 18 was O'Neill and featured four of O'Neill's greatest hits.

In 1990, O'Neill released her sixth studio album Edge of Winter. Two singles were taken from this album, "Satin Sheets" and "Poster Girl", both of which failed to find chart success. The Very Best of Collette and Sharon O'Neill was released in 1991 by J&B Records. It contained eight tracks from Collette Roberts and eight tracks from O'Neill, including the previously non-album single "Power" from 1984.

In 1991, O'Neill collaborated with Robert Palmer and wrote "True Love" together for Palmer's Rhythm & Blues album. She also contributed vocals on that release. In 1994, O'Neill, Palmer, and Palmer's girlfriend Mary Ambrose co-wrote "Love Takes Time" for Palmer's Honey album. O'Neill contributed vocals to that release, as well as to Palmer's 1999 Rhythm & Blues and 2003's Drive.

2000–present: Later career[edit]

In 2001, she toured as a guest artist with New Zealand female act When the Cat's Away. In 2005, she toured Australia as a support act for Leo Sayer and a comprehensive collection of her greatest hits was released by Sony Music Australia under the title The Best of Sharon O'Neill. In 2006 and early 2007, O'Neill again toured Australia supporting Leo Sayer.

From August–September 2007, O'Neill toured as part of the 'Countdown Spectacular 2' concert series Australia-wide[11] and toured Australia and New Zealand on The Let It Be Tour (The Beatles tribute show) in November–December 2007.[12]

In 2014, Sony New Zealand released a new greatest hits collection titled Words: The Very Best of Sharon O'Neill. The album peaked at number 6 on the New Zealand albums chart.

In 2018, Sharon performed a duet with Ben Ransom titled "Young Years", the song she co-wrote for the group Dragon. The track is available via digital streaming service Apple Music.


Studio albums[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1978 Sharon O'Neill New Zealand Music Awards - Top Female Vocalist Won[13]
1979 Sharon O'Neill New Zealand Music Awards - Top Female Vocalist Won[14]
1979 "Face In a Rainbow" APRA Awards (New Zealand) - Silver Scroll Awards Won
1980 Sharon O'Neill New Zealand Music Awards - Top Female Vocalist Won[15]
Sharon O'Neill New Zealand Music Awards - Album of the Year Won[16]
1981 Sharon O'Neill Australian Countdown Awards - Most Popular Female Won
1982 Sharon O'Neill Nominated
1983 Sharon O'Neill Won
Smash Palace New Zealand Music Awards - Best Film Soundtrack/Cast Recording/Compilation Won
1984 Sharon O'Neill Australian Countdown Awards - Best Female Performance in a Video Won
Sharon O'Neill Australian Countdown Awards - Most Popular Female Performer Won
Sharon O'Neill Australian Countdown Awards - Best Songwriter Nominated
1985 "Power" Australian Countdown Awards - Best Female Performance in a Video Won
1988 Sharon O'Neill ARIA Music Awards - Best Female Artist Nominated
1989 "We're Only Human" ARIA Music Awards - Best Female Artist Nominated
2017 Sharon O'Neill New Zealand Music Hall of Fame inductee[17]


  1. ^ a b "Australasian Performing Right Association". APRA. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  2. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1865. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  3. ^ Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara, Paul McHenry with notes by Ed Nimmervoll (2002) [1987]. "ONEILL, Sharon". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2010. Note: [on-line] version established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition.
  4. ^ a b Australian chart peaks:
  5. ^ New Zealand chart peaks:
  6. ^ a b "Sharon O'Neill". Sergent. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Twelve Questions with Sharon O'Neill". NZ Herald. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  8. ^ Archived 3 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Gold and platinum New Zealand albums to 2013". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  10. ^ Taylor, Phil (P J) (24 August 2006). "The Times interview, Sharon O'Neill explain yourself to PJ Taylor". Howick and Pakuranga Times. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  11. ^ "The Countdown Spectacular". Frontier Touring Co. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
  12. ^ "The Let It Be Tour entry on Sharon O'Neill". Xazz Media Group. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  13. ^ "TOP FEMALE VOCALIST 1978". NZ Music Awads. RMNZ. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  14. ^ "TOP FEMALE VOCALIST 1979". NZ Music Awads. RMNZ. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  15. ^ "TOP FEMALE VOCALIST 1980". NZ Music Awads. RMNZ. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  16. ^ "ALBUM OF THE YEAR 1980". NZ Music Awards. RMNZ. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  17. ^ "HOME INDUCTEES". Retrieved 16 August 2021.

External links[edit]