Alan's first musical memory is of creating tunes on a xylophone at the age of six. By the fifth grade, his favorite artist was Spike Jones, and he was serenading his class on the ukulele. At Coachella Valley Union High, he started first rock'n'roll band, with heavy influences from Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elvis, and Fats Domino.
It was at this point that Alan began to write his own songs. "When I was in high school, to be a songwriter was tantamount to being a bum, at least as far as the prospects were concerned. I had never even given it much thought. I just did it for fun. I wrote songs when I was in high school as a way of getting acceptance from my peer group."
Alan spent most of the sixties on the road with a four-piece band. He scored some films, and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, but still felt his career was going nowhere.
"When I was twenty-eight years old, I was completely miserable," he said. "I couldn't see what my future would be. I'd been playing in bars and clubs with various groups for years, waiting for that break that would catapult me to stardom. I had a few near misses, but they always fell short."
Then, in 1971, Alan signed with Warner Brothers Music, and wrote "The Drum," which became a hit single for Bobby Sherman. In 1974, three more of his songs did well: "Train of Thought," recorded by Cher; "Rock'n'Roll Heaven," cut by the Righteous Brothers; and "Angie Baby," sung by Helen Reddy. "Well-known artists, good production, distribution, air play; it was the first time that these things just clicked in, one right after another. I said to myself, 'My God, that's what it feels like when everything goes right.'"
In 1977, Warner Brothers Music decided to form a special label for their composers who also performed. "Songs which otherwise would have been channeled to major recording artists," said president Ed Silvers, "we will now be able to exploit on Pacific Records, via the original songwriters." The first artist signed was Alan O'Day, and the first release -- "Undercover Angel."
Alan described that tune as a "nocturnal novelette." It was put out, without fanfare, in February 1977. Four months later, it was the number one song in the country, and certified gold to boot. "It's wonderful when you find out what feels right," said Alan, "and then it also feels right to other people. That's a songwriter's dream."
In the 1980s, Alan teamed up with Janis Liebhart to co-write dozens of songs for the popular Muppet Babies cartoons. Throughout his career, his songs were also performed by artists ranging from Johnny Mathis, the 5th Dimension, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Tony Orlando, Three Dog Night and Paul Anka, among others. He succumbed to a battle with cancer at his home in Westwood, Calif., on May 17, 2013. He was 72.
Main Page | Top 100 Singles Intro | Singles By Month | Seventies Almanac | Search The RockSite/The Web