In a music career spanning more than 40 years, O'Neal is an accomplished R&B and soul singer. O'Neal came to prominence in the middle of the 1980s as a solo artist, releasing fourteen singles that entered the Top 40 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" and "In the Middle". 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 has the same grain and range as that of Otis Redding."
Alexander O'Neal was born November 15, 1953 in Natchez, Mississippi, a few months after his father was killed. 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.
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 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 20 of the R&B Singles Chart. The same year, he also scored his first R&B Top 10 single with "Saturday Love", a duet with Cherrelle from her High Priority album. The song "Saturday Love" peaked at No. 2 and also reached the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 6.