Eugene Booker McDaniels was born in Kansas City, Missouri and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and went on to have six Top 40 hits in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The two that went into the Top 5 were 1961's "Tower of Strength" (#5 on the pop chart) and "A Hundred Pounds of Clay," which reached #3 on the pop chart, and sold over one million records, earning gold disc status. "Tower of Strength" reached #49 in the UK Singles Chart.
In the late 1960s, McDaniels focused on black consciousness, and his best-known song in this genre was "Compared to What," a jazz-soul protest song made famous by Les McCann and Eddie Harris on their album, Swiss Movement, and also covered by Roberta Flack. McDaniels also attained the top spot on the chart as a songwriter.
In 1974, Roberta Flack reached #1 with McDaniels' "Feel Like Makin' Love." This won a Grammy award and McDaniels also received a BMI award for outstanding radio airplay, at the time of the award the song had already had over 5 million plays.
Other songs that McDaniels recorded included "Point Of No Return" and "Spanish Lace." In the early 1970s, McDaniels recorded on the Atlantic label, which released the McDaniels albums, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse and Outlaw.
In the 1980s, McDaniels recorded an album with the percussionist Terry Silverlight, which has not yet been released. In 2005, McDaniels released Screams & Whispers on his own record label.
In 2009, he released a new album, Evolution's Child, which features his lyrics, and a number of songs composed or arranged with pianist Ted Brancato. Some of the songs are said to feature jazz musician Ron Carter on concert bass.
McDaniel's "Jagger the Dagger" was featured on the Tribe Vibes breakbeat compilation album, after it had been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest.
McDaniels also appeared in films. They included the 1962 film, It's Trad, Dad!, (released in the United States as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm), which was directed by Richard Lester. He also appeared in 1963's The Young Swingers. McDaniels is briefly seen singing in the choir in the 1974 film, Uptown Saturday Night.
McDaniels currently lives as a self-described "hermit" in the state of Maine. In 2010, he launched series of YouTube videos on his website featuring his music and thoughts on some of his creations.