Alexander O'Neal (born November 15, 1953) is an American R&B singer. He is best known for the songs "If You Were Here Tonight", "Criticize" and "Fake" and the duets with Cherrelle, "Saturday Love" and "Never Knew Love Like This".
O'Neal was born in Natchez, Mississippi, but moved to Minneapolis when he was 20. He is an alumnus of Alcorn State University. He joined a group called "The Mystics" and played the local coverband circuit. O'Neal spent a short time in a group "Enterprise" before being recruited into Flyte Tyme, a band that included Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Monte Moir.
Later signed by Prince to the Warner Bros. label with their name changed to The Time, a disagreement with Prince led to O'Neal leaving the band and being replaced as lead singer by Morris Day. Allmusic profiler John Floyd asserts that O'Neal was ousted for "looking 'too black'",.
O'Neal immediately formed an R&B band called Alexander and recorded a 12" single, "Playroom," for a Chicago-based independent label, followed by the release of "Attitude" on the Rich Records Label. Three years later, 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 SOS Band and Cherrelle.
O'Neal released his eponymous debut album in 1985. 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. "Saturday Love" song peaked at #2, and it also reached the top ten of the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #6.
In 1987, he released the album titled Hearsay. It yielded the #25 pop and #1 R&B single "Fake". The song also peaked at #7 on the Billboard dance chart. The follow-up, "Criticize", peaked at #4 R&B and #70 pop. The third single, "Never Knew Love Like This", another duet with Cherrelle, peaked at #2 R&B and #28 pop. 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 being certified triple platinum, and spawned seven charting singles. The highest of these, "Criticize", peaked at #4 on the UK Singles Chart, whereas "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, he 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, his final album with the Tabu label, Love Makes No Sense, was released. It 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 2006 O'Neal appeared on The Weakest Link All Singing All Dancing Edition. He was the 5th contestant voted off. O'Neal participated on the British reality singing contest show Just the Two of Us in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, he 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 for 15 years.
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 O'Neal being interviewed in-depth 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 his rise to fame, along with the story of Cherrelle.
In 2014, Alexander signs a new management deal with Howard Perl Management, Beverly Hills.