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WHO: Alexander O’Neal.

HITS WE LOVE: “Sunshine,” “Fake,” “If You Were Here Tonight,” “Saturday Love” (duet with Cherrelle), “Never Knew Love Like This” (duet with Cherelle).

WHO: Alexander O’Neal.

HITS WE LOVE: “Sunshine,” “Fake,” “If You Were Here Tonight,” “Saturday Love” (duet with Cherrelle), “Never Knew Love Like This” (duet with Cherelle).

HOMETOWN: Natchez, Mississippi.

WHAT HE’S UP TO NOW: O’Neal performed at a Flyte Tyme reunion weekend this month in Minneapolis and has been featured on two different reality shows in the United Kingdom. He released a CD in 2008, is recording another for release this year and remains a huge star in the UK, performing regularly.

THE STORY: The original lead singer of Flyte Tyme – the group that would eventually become The Time, with Morris Day on lead – O’Neal’s powerful soul voice obviously needed its own spotlight.

Legend has it that the lighter-skinned Day was Prince’s preference in terms of the band’s image, but O’Neal himself told Blues and Soul magazine he was kicked out of the group because he was too opinionated and asking too many questions about money. It all worked out in his favor in the end, because when Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were also famously bounced by Prince after returning late from a production gig, they and O’Neal would come together for two classic albums.

His 1985 self-titled solo debut established O’Neal as a soul superstar. He, Jam and Lewis had a musical chemistry that couldn’t be denied or duplicated, and the music world was richer for it. O’Neal also found his perfect duet partner in Tabu Records labelmate Cherelle. He sang two hit songs with her that not only became smash hits, but they helped enhance each of their solo profiles as well.

After three albums and uptempto hits like “Fake” and “Criticize,” as well as the ballads “If You Were Here Tonight” and “Sunshine,” O’Neal parted ways with Jam and Lewis. His career waned, and rumors of drug and alcohol problems followed.

But while his following in the States may have plummeted when he was no longer charting, O’Neal remained popular in the U.K., recording well-received albums including “Alexander O’Neal: Live at Hammersmith Apollo” in 2005.

In 2008, O’Neal told Pete Lewis of Blues and Soul magazine that he truly appreciated the support of his English fans.

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