Singer-songwriter Alan O’Day who sang the 1977 number one hit Undercover Angel died on Friday aged 72.
O’Day who penned songs that became hits for Helen Reddy with Angie Baby and the Righteous Brothers with Rock and Roll Heaven, died at his Westwood, Calif., home Friday after battling cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
His record label, 1st Phase Records, released a statement that read, “Alan continued to write and perform until his last days. Alan was a generous man who gave his heart and soul to the music industry,” !st Phase also noted that he had continued to write and perform “until his last days,” and when he passed away at his home in Westwood, Calif., he was surrounded by family and friends.
O’Day also wrote his own number one hit, Undercover Angel.
O’Day’s friend and fellow songwriter, Grammy winner Diane Warren, mourned his passing on Twitter, writing “‘If there’s a Rock n Roll Heven well U know they got one hell of a band’. My friend Alan O’Days song. The band just got better my friend.RIP.”
According to Alan’s record label 1st phase records, “Alan continued to write and perform until his last days. Alan was a generous man who gave his heart and soul to the music industry.”
O’Day first came to the public’s attention in the early 1970s when he wrote Cher’s Train of Thought. He spent the 1980’s working with Janis Liebhart on songs for the Muppet Babies cartoons and the 1990’s working on music for the National Geographic’s series, “Really Wild Animals.”
O’Day stated that he remembered creating melodies 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 School, after he played in one band called The Imperials, he started his own rock’n’roll band, The Shoves, with heavy influences from Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Fats Domino. A third band, “The Renés” played Latin and Mexican standards mixed with rock and roll tunes and gave him the opportunity to write his own songs.
In 1961, he found work through a friend from high school, Arch Hall, Jr., whose father, Arch Hall, Sr., was an independent movie producer. The Hall senior wrote and produced films that starred his son Hall, and O’Day helped out with the sound. This work led to Arch Jr. and O’Day putting together a four-piece band called The Archers and they played in clubs on the Sunset Strip such as Whiskey A Go Go and Pandora’s Box.
Around 1965, O’Day was in the band “Alan & Bob & Denny,” a show group which did pop songs and some comedy. They played nightclubs in the Pasadena & Hollywood area, and were on The Ed Sullivan Show on November 14, 1965, as the backup band for singer/actress/comedienne Virginia O’Brien.
In 1969, he signed with E. H. Morris Music as a songwriter and followed by signing with Warner Brothers Music in 1971, writing “The Drum,” which became a hit single for Bobby Sherman.
O’Day started his solo career in 1973 and released his first solo album the same year, Caress Me Pretty Music. The album didn’t sell very well and he took a break from music for awhile returning to the business in 1977 when he was the first artist to sign up with Warner Bros Records who’d formed a label to feature songwriters who performed their own songs.
Alan is survived by his wife Yuka.
In memoriam for Alan we’ve included this video of a review he gave in February this year.
By Michael Smith