Singer/songwriter Sharon O'Neill began singing folk songs in her native Nelson. After singing cover versions on music show Ready to Roll, she began winning attention for her ballads and pop songs. Her singles 'Asian Paradise', 'Maybe' and 'Maxine' were are all included in APRA's list of Top New Zealand Songs. O'Neill also composed the score for classic 1981 Bruno Lawrence drama Smash Palace. With a blonde-shag hairdo and trademark shark tooth earring, she became an Australasian sex symbol, and an early example of 1980s girl power; years later, her look would influence Outrageous Fortune's Cheryl West.
"If you don't like the beat, don't play with the drum." 'Maxine' was a single taken from O'Neill's 1983 album Foreign Affairs, about a King's Cross prostitute — "Case 1352, a red and green tattoo" — and based on a woman who worked the streets nearby. The song charted at No. 16 both here and in Australia. The clip starts with Sharon arriving at the airport; look out for leopard skin print tights and a dress straight off Logan's Run. Other highlights: a steamy sax solo, heavy eye shadow and backlit silhouettes in "rain-slicked avenues." Nice.
'Maybe' was the title track from Sharon O'Neill's 1981 album and she wrung every drop of emotion out of the performance. The video sees her during a sad break up, wandering around the flat in satin pants and a cavalry jacket and slumping against walls as she ponders on exactly how things came to this. It's in glorious black and white apart from the relationship flashbacks during the bridge, which oddly look like a montage from a sitcom. 'Maybe' reached No.12 on the NZ Singles Chart.
Singer/songwriter Sharon O’Neill did Los Angeles inspired, mid-70s pop/rock as well as many of her contemporaries in California — but it’s hard to imagine opening lines as striking as these ones coming from that West Coast. ‘Words’ was the first single from her self titled, second long player which won her Album of the Year and Best Female Vocalist at the 1980 NZ Awards. After years behind the keyboards, O’Neill shines in this video filmed in front of an audience with a band that includes Simon Morris, Wayne Mason and future Mutton Bird Ross Burge.
Nostalgia can take many forms: and certainly many a middle-aged memory swirls back to this early Sharon O’Neill video, a nostalgia further fuelled by the long lack of a decent quality master copy. The classic clip about romance in foreign climes — or perhaps a romance that unfurled somewhere else entirely — opens with O’Neill’s backlit image reflected in the water. But it is the scenes of O’Neill in a rippling pool wearing a shark tooth earring that seem to have left the longest impression on males of a certain vintage.