Sharon O'Neill

Self-taught guitarist Sharon O'Neill started putting chords to her poetry whilst in her teens in her native New Zealand.

Born and raised in Nelson on New Zealand's South Island she began performing around the area with her acoustic guitar in the late 1960's. Her first recordings were with fellow Nelson locals Robin Winch and Nancy Richman as Suitewater. They recorded the single 'Suzanne'/'Chords Of Fame' for the Ode label and under the recording name Sharon And Nancy also recorded 'Life Upon Life', a song selected for the 1970 New Zealand Mobil Song Quest and released on the album showcasing the finalists.

Sharon O'Neill's first recording under her own name was also on the Ode label and featured two covers, Elton John's 'Love Song' and Neil Young's 'Birds'. Next she made her move to the larger scene of Christchurch in New Zealand and joined the band Chapta. She appeared on the New Faces show with another of her own song's 'Nothing Makes It Easy' then formed the covers band Jessika. Sharon's solo career was stagnant and she moved through a number of soft rock bands in New Zealand with varying degrees of success.

The most successful of these bands was Shiner, which featured Sharon's later husband Brent Thomas. At his urging she returned to composing and performing her own material and reinvigorated her solo career. Her first major breakthrough was the New Zealand national tour support for fellow Kiwi Mark Williams followed by a number of supports for visiting artists.

Finishing third in the televised New Zealand talent contest "The Entertainers" with an early song of hers, 'Luck's On The Table', scored her a CBS deal and the release of her debut album This Heart, This Song. The single was the song she had performed on The Entertainers show and it peaked at Number 27 on the New Zealand chart. The second single, 'Don't Say No To Tomorrow', reached Number 6.

The work that was making Sharon O'Neill Australia's most popular female performer included her second album, the self-titled release of 1980. The singles lifted from the album and the album itself enjoyed great chart success in New Zealand and charted well in Australia. There was also a duet with another fellow Kiwi Jon Stevens called 'Don't Let Love Go'.

Following the release of her third album Maybe Sharon scored the support slot for Boz Scaggs on his Australian tour and, with her band including Brent Thomas in tow; she headed off to conquer Australia once and for all. Sharon and Brent moved permanently to Australia and continued to promote the album, which charted well on both sides of the Tasman. The soundtrack EP to the Bruce Donaldson movie "Smash Palace" came next, closely followed by her fourth album, Foreign Affairs, in 1983. This album featured the most famous of Sharon O'Neill tracks 'Maxine'. The song about a Kings Cross prostitute was a Top 20 chart success in both Australia and New Zealand.

People across the pond in Australia were starting to take notice and Sharon received APRA awards for her debut work. By now she was spending more and more time in Australia and was being quickly adopted by the Aussie audience. So taken by Sharon was the Australian industry that she won the APRA Top Top Female Vocalist Award in 1978, 1979 and 1980. She also won the Countdown Rock Awards three times between 1980 and 1985 and the Sounds Pop Poll in 1983 and 1984.

The good ol' "record company dispute" followed and Sharon O'Neill was unable to record anything substantial for the next five years. The few releases she could make included a contribution the classic film "Street Hero" which also featured fellow New Zealanders Dragon with their song 'Wilderworld'. Sharon's contribution was 'Blood Red Roses'. During this forced hiatus, one from which Sharon's solo career would never fully recover, she turned to writing for other artists.

A song Sharon originally penned for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's television series "Sweet and Sour" was recorded by the Takeaways with Deborah Conway as lead vocalist. The other was Sharon supplemented her income was to teach aerobics whilst living in Sydney. The dispute with CBS continued and during this time Sharon's marriage also broke down.

By 1987 her contract with CBS was complete and Sharon signed to Polydor who released her fourth album Danced In The Fire. 'Physical Favours', the title track and 'We're Only Human' were the three singles lifted from the album but none of them, nor the album, enjoyed the same success she'd enjoyed before her relationship with CBS expired.
A fifth, and ultimately final, album, Edge Of Winter, was released in 1990 with the singles 'Poster Girl' and 'Satin Sheets'. Writing for other artists became Sharon O'Neill's forte from then on out, as well as some children’s television contributions. Personally Sharon had also begun a long-term relationship with Dragon keyboardist Alan Mansfield. Sharon and Alan were also writing partners and had contributed work for Robert Palmer ('True Love') and Sharon receives writing credits for four tracks on Dragon's 1989 album Bondi Road.

In 1998 Sharon returned to the stage, performing with a host of other Aussie and NZ artists for the Marc Hunter Benefit concert at Selinas in Sydney.

Sharon returned again to the spotlight in 2001 when she got together with some other female performers for the When The Cat's Away tour of New Zealand. Those other girls being Margaret Urlich, Debbie Harwood, Kim Willoughby and Annie Crummer. The very successful tour spawned the live album Live In Paradise.

In 2005 Sharon went back on the road for the first time in 15 years, to open for 70's singing sensation Leo Sayer on his "Voice In My Head" nationwide tour. It also coincided with Sharon's long-awaited Best Of album release. Not only did Sharon perform a half hour set prior to Leo's show, but she also joined Leo's band as an additional keyboard player and backing singer. Sharon even performed a duet with Leo as part of his show.

In 2006 Sharon continued to tour with Leo Sayer and his band.

In August 2007 Sharon embarked on a National Tour as part of the Coun tDown 2 Spectacular. The tour took in every Australian Capital City in August and September. The tour was a big hit with audiences across the country and Sharon proved to be one of it's most popular acts. The DVD and CD of the concert has been released in November 2007.

In November and December of 2007, Sharon embarked on a National Tour of Australia and New Zealand, touring with the hit show "Let It Be". On tour with fellow Kiwi singers Mark Williams and Darryl Lovegrove as well as Aussies Glenn Shorrock and Doug Parkinson. Backed by the Day Tripper Band consisting of mainly Leo Sayer's touring band, with Paul Berton at the helm and Alan Mansfield on keyboards. The five vocalists belted out a string of Lennon and McCartney hits from one side of the Tasman to the other over three weeks. Sharon performed such Beatles classics as 'She's Leaving Home', 'Carry That Weight', 'We Can Work it Out' and 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. The tour was a stand-out success, which enabled Sharon to connect with audiences once more. It gives her a great footing to begin work on gathering new material of her own with the promise of a new album and some solo shows in 2008.

2008 proved to be a somewhat quieter year for Sharon, however she ended 2008 with some fabulous shows with two international artists!

In October and November 2008, Sharon toured as a backing vocalist for 80's idols, UK singers Paul Young and Tony Hadley (of Spandau Ballet fame). The tour took in six dates in Australia and six in her homeland of New Zealand. The tour was a big hit with audiences both here in Australia and in New Zealand. Sharon enjoyed the tour very much and said that Paul and Tony were great guys to work with.

Sharon kicked off 2009 with a couple of guest vocal appearances with guitar whizz Peter Northcote. In January, Sharon played with Peter at The Basement in Sydney as well as the Brass Monkey in Cronulla. Sharon sang her hits, 'Losing You' and of course 'Maxine', with Alan Mansfield accompanying her on keyboards and Peter playing guitar. Sharon's guests spots were very much enjoyed by audiences and Shaz and Pete had fun onstage as well.

To round out 2009, Sharon went back to her native New Zealand in September to take part in an all girl show titled "Give It A Girl". Sharon joined the likes of Margaret Urlich, Annie Crummer, Debbie Harwood, Shona Laing and some new female kiwi talent in Julia Deans and Lisa Crawley. The show took centre stage for four nights in Auckland's Sky Casino Showroom. It was a pleasure for Sharon to perform and catch up with some of the girls she had previously performed with for the "When The Cat's Away" tour in 2001.

Sharon O'Neill Official Website