Outspoken Irish singer/songwriter Sinéad O’Connor, best known for her evocative cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” has died at the age of 56. No cause of death has been released.
From the New York Times:
Recognizable by her wide eyes and shaved head, Ms. O’Connor released 10 studio albums, beginning with the alternative hit “The Lion and the Cobra” in 1987.
She went on to sell millions of albums worldwide, breaking out with the 1990 album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.”
That album, featuring “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a No. 1 hit and MTV staple, won a Grammy Award for best alternative music performance — although Ms. O’Connor boycotted the ceremony, in 1991, citing what she called the show’s excessive commercialism.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” was named the the number one world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.
During a 1992 appearance on “S.N.L.,” O’Connor caused an uproar performing an a cappella rendition of Bob Marley’s “War” and closed by ripping a photo of Pope John Paul II into pieces in protest against sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. “Fight the real enemy,” she said.
Sinéad O’Connor protests sexual abuse of minors in the church, ripping up a photo of The Pope Live on SNL — earning a lifetime ban from the show.
The following decades would reveal just how pervasive the abuse was. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/QwjP1lEQ4t
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) July 26, 2023
In 2014, I covered her excellent pop/rock single “Take Me To Church” from her album I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss.
Connor had been open in the past about her personal struggles with mental health including diagnoses of bipolar disorder and suicide attempts.
In the past several years, she became a somewhat erratic public figure, sharing unfiltered perspectives and personal details on social media.
Her son Shane died by suicide in 2022 at the age of 17.
I have to note that O’Connor was an fervent supporter LGBTQ ally – from standing up for those affected by HIV/AIDS, to performing at Pride events, to donating clothes for trans women to the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI).
Sinead O’Connor cared.
In Ireland, Sinead publicly supported people with HIV/AIDS when many denigrated us. She used her fame to help break down stigma and bring about change.
We were lucky to have Sinead. pic.twitter.com/csONIHsi8T
— Jason Reid (@JasonReidUK) July 26, 2023
Sinead O’Connor played Gay Pride in 1988, alongside Erasure, just a month after Section 28 had been passed.
Pride back then was much more of a protest, lesbians and gays were treated as 2nd class citizens.
Performing at Pride was a sign of allyship, when there were few to be had. pic.twitter.com/vJOF8q7LX9
— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) July 26, 2023
Every Irish queer, woman and outcast is surely feeling Sinéad’s passing tonight.
Back in 2017 when I worked for TENI we got a call from her management asking could she donate her closet to us to as she was downsizing and wanted the clothes to go to trans folk in need.
An icon. pic.twitter.com/5jYZmlGLkI
— Toryn Caitriona Glavin (@torynglavin) July 26, 2023