Sinéad O’Connor dies at 56

July 26, 2023 • 1:57 pm

According to the BBC, Sinéad O’Connor has left this vale of tears at 56. This is incredibly young (her 17 year old son died, an apparent suicide, last year), and the cause of death was not given.

Irish singer and activist Sinéad O’Connor has died at the age of 56.

In a statement, the singer’s family said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad.

“Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

She was best known for her single Nothing Compares 2 U, released in 1990, which went on to hit number one around the world.

Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar paid tribute to her, saying her music “was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare”.

I wasn’t a big fan, but I do remember seeing this live:

In 1992, one of the most notable events of her career took place when she ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II on the US TV show Saturday Night Live, where she was the invited performer.

Following an acapella performance of Bob Marley’s War, she looked at the camera and said “fight the real enemy”, a protest against the Catholic Church.

The incident resulted in her being banned for life by broadcaster NBC and protests against her in the US.

“I’m not sorry I did it. It was brilliant,” she said in an interview with the New York Times in 2021.

28 thoughts on “Sinéad O’Connor dies at 56

  1. I just read the obit/story in WaPo. They had a photo of her in a hijab (I think), and reported she had converted to Islam. So, she jettisoned one misogynistic faith for another that may be moreso??

  2. Very sad. I really only know her musically for her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Everything else I know about her relates to her long history of extremely erratic behaviour and I can’t help fearing that her death will have been self-inflicted.

  3. I remember that performance on SNL–I saw it as it aired and was stunned, but it was hard for me to disagree. She was a good singer, but certainly an unusual character.

    1. I saw it live too and I loved it! I got in a big fight with a boyfriend about it after. He thought she shouldn’t have written the pope a letter instead. Haha!

    2. Yeah, I saw it live too. I knew it was going to create outrage and I applauded her bravery. Now I must put on Troy.

  4. Posting another favorite duet / video from 2 transcendental talents! (I wouldn’t have ever bet any money that she goes first!). I wanna be haunted indeed….

  5. Apart from being a brilliant musician she highlighted the abuses of the Catholic Church years before the media picked up on it, US obsessive nationalism (why do you need to play the national anthem at a music event?), the mistreatment of women in the music industry (that’s why she cut her hair) – and she was hated for all that. Is it any wonder she struggled through life.

  6. Beautiful voice, but her suicide was inevitable.
    After converting to Islam, I expected her to go out in a suicide bombing.

  7. I’m not sure who wrote her lyrics – her, or not-her – but they’re good at asking the questions that no religion is comfortable answering. Tough life, poor girl.
    Pablo @ 7, I think the suicide was her child, not herself. Her death seems to be the result of a God who hates dissenters.

  8. I was not a fan, as I never am of self-indulgent egomaniacs, but I felt for her mental illness, and yes, I applauded her SNL stunt.

    1. Given the harm wrought by most of the “self-indulgent egomaniacs” who dominate our world, a legacy of truly original music that brings a sense of wonder to millions seems to be quite a positive achievement for a woman who, as you say, was clearly afflicted with psychological pain throughout her life.

  9. Here’s another song from O’Connor, “Trouble Soon Be Over,” from the compilation of Blind Willie Johnson songs. The power and passion in her voice is, I think, hard to equal.

    Also take a gander at the names of the artists on this terrific album. Highly recommended!

  10. I wish the coverage focused more on her first album, say the track Troy. Much more interesting than Nothing Compares. Watch the youtube video of her singing Troy at the Dominion Theatre in 1988. It gives me chills

  11. A much troubled life like her compatriot Dolores O’Riordan lead singer of the Cranberries, and for similar deep rooted reasons. Dolores, who had a magnificent voice, died 5 years ago at 46 in the same manner as one of my other favourite singers, Whitney Houston.

  12. The Lion and the Cobra (1987) is one of the best albums of the 80’s in my opinion. For me, Sinead O’conner IS this album. “Nothing Compares 2 U” and the whole “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” are kind of blah and quite forgettable by comparison (I couldn’t even get through an entire relisten of that album recently).

    When she tore up the pope’s picture on SNL in 92, at the time I just assumed it was a general protest of religion. Didn’t realize she was protesting the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Ireland years before this came to light more broadly in the US and Europe. This took real guts (although maybe not the most effective protest since it wasn’t clear yet exactly what she was saying).

    She was abused as a child, dealt with bipolar disorder, and was demonized for a truth to power protest that I imagine was quite personal. This is not to mention that one of her sons committed suicide when he was 17. Tough life as someone said. RIP.

  13. Very sad. She was an incredibly talented artist, with one of the most powerful voices. I discovered The Lion and the Cobra album when I was a teenager, about 10 years after its release. Besides the people commenting here, I’ve never known anyone else who appreciated her.

    Also check out this a cappella song, which is simple and beautiful and showcases her voice as a plaintive, sincere instrument.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *