McDaniels grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and went on to have six Top 40hits in the Billboard Hot 100chart. The two that went into the top five were 1961's "Tower of Strength" (#5 on the pop chart) and "A Hundred Pounds of Clay," the latter of which reached #3 on pop chart.
In the late 1960s, McDaniels turned his attention to a more black consciousness form of song. His best-known song in this genre was probably "Compared to What," a jazz-soulprotest song made famous (and into a hit) by Les McCann and Eddie Harris on their album Swiss Movement and also covered by Roberta Flack.
McDaniels did reach the top spot on the chart as a songwriter. In 1974, Roberta Flack reached #1 with McDaniels' "Feel Like Makin' Love." (This is not to be confused with the Bad Companysong of the same name.)
Other songs that McDaniels recorded included "Point Of No Return" and "Spanish Lace." In the early 1970s, McDaniels recorded on the Atlanticlabel, which released the McDaniels albums, Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse and Outlaw.
McDaniel's "Jagger the Dagger" was featured on the Tribe Vibes breakbeatcompilation album, as it had been sampled by the musical group, 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 Sidney Poitier-Bill Cosby film Uptown Saturday Night.