Sinéad O'Connor, Acclaimed And Controversial Irish Musician, Dies At 56

Sinéad O'Connor, Acclaimed And Controversial Irish Musician, Dies At 56

Sinead O'Connor, the Irish singer-songwriter pioneer of Nothing Compares 2 You, has died, her family said in a statement obtained by the BBC. He is 56 years old.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead," the O'Connor family said in a statement. "His family and friends are devastated and ask for privacy at this difficult time."

The cause of the singer's death is still unknown. USA TODAY has reached out to O'Connor's representatives for comment.

The news comes just over a year after O'Connor's 17-year-old son, Shane, committed suicide in January 2022. A few weeks after the singer's death, he published a disturbing message on his Twitter microblog, writing: "I've decided to follow my son. me. There's no point in living without him." Shane is one of O'Connor's four children.

O'Connor released his debut album The Lion and the Cobra in 1987 and achieved worldwide fame three years later with his second album I Don't Want What I Don't Have. The album was promoted by the lead single "Nothing Compares 2 U", a painful cover of Prince's 1985 song.

His rousing rendition of the power ballad spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Best of the Year. It was accompanied by a now famous music video, in which O'Connor sings directly into the camera in close-ups.

But his main success was short-lived. The singer received backlash for her appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992, when she sang Bob Marley's "War" to protest child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Religious groups burned his albums and radio stations picked up his songs. Joe Pacey, host of "SNL" a week later, showed a restored photo of Pope during his opening monologue and said he would have given O'Connor a "slap in the face" had he been there.

A few weeks later, O'Connor dazzled at a Bob Dylan tribute concert at New York's Madison Square Garden. She was going to sing Dylan's "I Believe in You" but switched to an a cappella version of "War." Despite the backlash, she has no regrets about the controversial "SNL" moment, later calling it the "proudest" moment of her career.

"They all thought they had to make fun of me for throwing my career away," O'Connor said in Nothing Compared, a documentary about his life released last year. "I never said I wanted to be a pop star. I didn't want to be a pop star. So I didn't give up on the career I wanted. It hasn't changed my attitude."

O'Connor was born on December 8, 1966 in Dublin. In her documentary, she details the deeply religious upbringing and abuse by her mother, Mary. In a very moving part of the film, he describes how his mother locked him outside and slept in the garden, even when he wanted to stand by the window and beg. Mary later died in a car accident when O'Connor was only 19 years old.

The musician later said that while singing "Nothing Compares 2 You" he thought about his mother and "the little girl in the park".

O'Connor often uses her music to advocate for social justice; he denounced police brutality in the 1990s song "Black Boys on Mopeds" and advocated for women's rights in the 2000s in "No Man's Woman." In 2020, she released a cover of Mahalia Jackson's "World Problems" in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Always outspoken and non-conformist, he rose to fame with Frank Sinatra by refusing to play "The Star Spangled Banner" on one of his shows. In 2014, he fell out with Miley Cyrus and had a personal fight with Lana Del Rey after the young pop star said she was "pushed" by the industry.

"I'm afraid he's saying that the job depresses him a lot," O'Connor told USA Today in 2014. "If you know an artist, male or female, who has the stamina to jump off buildings, send it to me."

He has been nominated for a total of eight Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Alternative Music Performance for "I Don't Want What I Don't Have". In 2021, he released a memoir, Memories, and has released 10 albums throughout his career, most recently I'm Not the Boss, I'm the Boss in 2014.

Long known for his shaved head, O'Connor donned a memorable wig for the album cover; “No one has ever seen me with hair. No one has ever seen me look like a woman,” he said in a 2014 interview with USA Today.

Likewise, O'Connor wore a long dress for the cover of the album's lead single, "Take Me to Church".

"In a way, it also represents the music, because no one has ever seen that side of me musically," he said. "I've always been a female fighter. I've never been a woman with a romantic spirit.'

O'Connor has been married four times and separated from her last husband, therapist Barry Herridge, after just two weeks in 2011. She announced that she converted to Islam in 2018 and takes the name Shuhada David.

Throughout her life, she has been open about her struggles with mental health. The singer has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, complex post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder and spent six years in and out of mental hospitals. But music has always been a lifeline.

"I live because people give me hope," O'Connor told USA Today in 2012. "Artists keep people alive. We are called to give hope to people. Where there is war, there is spiritual trouble. That's why leaders the spiritual world is failing. I think an artist's job is to be a makeshift firefighter."

Credits: Associated Press , Brian Mansfield, Melissa Ruggeri

Police have announced that the death of Irish singer Sinead O'Connor is not suspicious.

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