Alexander O’Neal – Taking The Stage…In London

Contemporary soul legend and stylist Alexander O’Neal is soon to play London’s prestige venue The Boisdale, in Canary Wharf, on the heels of his recent cameo there for the recent Soul Awards. Pete caught up with him, to talk music…

Supplied By PR

Now, you did a spot at the Boisdale recently, at the Soul did you find it soundwise?

I just love performing here in England, especially with my family around..well I think they have Noise Regulations to bear in mind, you know what I’m saying? So the sound is more in the lounge range perhaps…but you know, Pete it is one lovely room and the people there are so great..

Well I can assure you Alex, that wherever you are in that performance room you get a clear sound and a good vocal timbre..we go there a lot

That’s good! we have three days to get it right and I can work with the sound engineer and all! We’ll give it everything we got

We saw you perform maybe two or three years ago, at The Pigalle at Piccadilly Circus in Soho. That was a fabulous show.

The Pigalle! Yeah, man – I enjoyed playing there a whole lot!

My son and I thought you and the band created a fine sound – a memorable set

And I do have most of the same people with me now..I’m so glad you came to that one! They have been with me long time, in America and everywhere, on the tours

And it is great to have a bunch of guys who allow me to be at my best. When I can perform to intimate crowds, it does bring out the best in me, I kinda know that by now…I just like to get the reaction of the crowd in that here and now..

You are a wizard! Because my very next pencilled question I have here is that I know you did two live albums! One at Hammersmith and one in Minneapolis …and I was going to ask you if live is The Real Deal O’Neal!

(Laughs) That’s absolutely it! You know, these days I just want to keep it all real and connected to my fans. Do everything with my fans in putting the show together It may not be all the songs that I want to play but rather the ones the fans are eager to hear..maybe for the first time if they’re young, y’know? The things that I’ve become synonymous with, the big numbers, the radio favourites..these London shows will be no different, we will be delivering that. Playing the songs that the fans want to hear, that’s the most important to me..

Alex – I have some favourites, I like Love Makes No Sense. What does that song mean to you?

(Sighs) I think..what it means to me is maybe a song that didn’t get the recognition it deserved, Pete. That should have been an anthem, Big Time, man. Fake, Criticise they hit the bullseye, but that should have been as successful..being honest about it.

At that time I was with A & M Records and they closed the R & B Division down, right ? And they farmed all the work out to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the producers. Love Makes No Sense got lost in that shuffle but yes I agree it’s one of the funkiest songs, the hardcore song recordings that I have created. You know when Marvin Gaye did that What’s Going On album it was about the world and when I did the Hearsay album it was about relationships – working out or not, y’know ? Centred on that theme if you like.

Now it’s that that connects you to the male and female audience, I suggest. People hear your words and go “ Jeez ! I’ve been there! I’ve been in that situation..”

(Enthused) Right!! That’s the thing – I say things in Criticise that guys want to say, but somehow cannot. That is why my male audience go for my lyrics, it’s real to them. That is my kinship with men – tell it like it is, clear the air. With the men on my side, I’m good to go..the women will come anyway, cos of the ballads, the romantic tunes that we include. When I go into a hotel, the first people I want get on my side is the bellhop, the maids, the concierge, you know what I mean ? Not the manager, so much..he or she won’t be looking after me!

Well it gives you both barrels, which IS a gift. Makes you distinctive. The other song I love is Never Knew Love Like This..

Cherelle and I were on a roll..what we with me doing Saturday Love along with her, a big hit. We took care of each other like family. We seemed to have a lot of fun with it. It’s become a fan favourite.

When I first got a guitar, the second song I taught myself to play was Natchez Burning – Howlin’ Wolf!

Oh I love Howlin’ Wolf!!…and yes. I’m from Natchez, Mississippi originally. It’s kinda gone good and bad at the same time, you could say. Racism at the time, in the Sixties was a very big thing..the human rights movement was growing..a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices, to get things to a better place. When anybody talks about say, Johannesburg and what was happening..well I can relate to that! It was pretty much the same situation, for us. You were just not welcome in white neighbourhoods. But Pete – in our families, we had so much love and care and concern goin’ on. We had to break a wall down, for the country to go forward, from the past.

My theory is that musicians are ahead of the world, on social matters…my first ever gig was with an Australian drummer, a Swiss guitarist, an African bassist..I thought well if THIS works, why are there any wars? Now our Eric Burdon formed a cool multiracial group called War, with Lonnie Jordan, Lee Oskar..cats from all over.

Spill The Wine. Low Rider – one of my favourites of all time.. it’s still early in the game for real equality, you have to have hope. We in America are that many years out of slavery, still. You can’t expect too much, there’s so much work to do, in the world.

What makes Alexander O’Neal happy? And what makes you angry?

I don’t know what happiness is. I’m content today, I love my family. But happiness, what IS that? I do know what makes me very angry – paedophilia. I cannot accept a child – anywhere – being made to feel bad or to suffer. Just cannot, ever…breaks my heart..

Finally, is it true you ride a bicycle around Manchester?

Hell yeah! Ain’t nothing like it!

Pete Sargeant


(Many thanks to Hush PR and to the fascinating Mr O’Neal)

All Photos Supplied By PR

All tickets include a three-course meal (Except Lounge Tickets) and are on sale now.

Tickets can be purchased from the venue direct here:

In addition, you can read our review of ‘Hearsay 30’ here:

The October 2018 Boisdale Residency will take place on the following dates:


Tuesday 16th October 2018 – Boisdale, Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom 

Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Boisdale, Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom 

Thursday 18th October 2018 – Boisdale, Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom