Troubled Irish crooner Sinead O’Connor, who skyrocketed to fame in 1990 with the hit heartbreaking song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” has passed away. She was 56.
Not only was the “Nothing Compares 2 U” power ballad, originally written by Prince, an instant radio success, the video for it revealed a young, unconventional singer with porcelain skin and a shaved head. Just 24 at the time the video was released, O’Connor and her unique look immediately became recognizable around the world.
In October 1992, she appeared on “Saturday Night Live” to perform a cover for Bob Marley’s song “War.” During the performance, O’Connor sparked global controversy when she infamously tore in half a picture of then Pope John Paul II. She claimed that she’d intended to protest the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church, but many viewers were offended by the stunt, and O’Connor’s career seemed to suffer as a result.
O’Connor further alienated herself from many Christians, especially Catholics, when she claimed to have been ordained a priest in the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, a church that is not in communion with the pope or the Roman Catholic church. She repeatedly sent letters to various popes, including Pope Francis, asking them to excommunicate her.
In October 2018, she shocked the world once again by announcing that she had converted to Islam and had changed her name to Shuhada’ Davitt, and afterward, she was repeatedly photographed wearing a hijab. “This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey,” she tweeted at the time. “All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.”
During her relatively short life, O’Connor was married four times and had four children. In January 2022, her 17-year-old son Shane took his own life. As a result, O’Connor decided to cancel all her public performances for the rest of the year.
“We would like to respectfully announce that due to continuing grief over the tragic loss of her beloved son Shane earlier this year, Sinead O’Connor will not be performing live in 2022,” read a statement from a spokesperson. “This has not been an easy decision for Sinead but a decision she has had to make for her own health and wellbeing at this time.”
At various times, O’Connor was also diagnosed with several different mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder and PTSD. In 2007, she told Oprah Winfrey that she had attempted suicide on her 33rd birthday eight years earlier.
O’Connor released a total of 10 studio albums throughout her career but never duplicated the international success of “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Earlier this year, she received the first Classic Irish Album award at the RTÉ Choice Music Awards for the album “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” which includes the iconic song. She dedicated the award to “each and every member of Ireland’s refugee community.” She also sang the theme song for a recent season of the Starz hit series “Outlander.”
O’Connor’s cause of death has not yet been reported. She is survived by three children.
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