Sinéad O’Connor Dead at 56

    Sinéad O’Connor has died at the age of 56. The singer’s family confirmed her death in a statement to Irish news network RTE, saying, “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.” No cause of death was disclosed.

    Born in 1966 in Glenageary, County Dublin, Ireland, O’Connor had a difficult childhood after her parents separated when she was eight. The singer would later claim that her mother, who died in a car accident in 1985, physically abused her, which led to her becoming an advocate for abused children throughout her life. In 1984, O’Connor met Colm Farrelly and formed the band Ton Ton Macoute, making waves on the Dublin rock scene before she was signed by Ensign Records as a solo artist. Her first major assignment was providing the vocals for ‘Heroine’, a song she co-wrote with The Edge for the film Captive.

    O’Connor moved to London and released her debut album, 1987’s The Lion and the Cobra, when she was barely 20 years old. With its 1990 follow-up, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, she became a worldwide sensation thanks to her haunting cover of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, which became the No. 1 single worldwide that year. She went on to release eight more studio albums throughout her career. Her most recent full-length was 2014’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.

    In 1990, O’Connor became the target of criticism for refusing to perform in New Jersey if the concert was preceded by the US national anthem, and she boycotted the 1991 Grammy Awards in protest of the first Gulf War. But her most controversial act came in 1992, when she made an appearance on Saturday Night Live during which tore up a photo of the Pope while singing an a capella version of Bob Marley’s ‘War’, asking viewers to “fight the real enemy.”

    O’Connor was open about her decades-long struggle with mental illness, which she wrote about in her 2021 memoir Rememberings. In January 2022, she experienced the tragic loss of her 17-year-old son Shane, who died by suicide after going missing just days prior. A week later, O’Connor was hospitalized following a series of concerning tweets. She was the subject of Nothing Compares, a feature documentary that premiered at Sundance in 2022. Earlier this year, she shared her final recording, ‘The Skye Boat Song’, as part of the soundtrack of the TV show Outlander.

    “Been living as undead night creature since,” O’ Connor wrote in her final social media post. “He was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul. We were one soul in two halves. He was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally. I am lost in the bardo without him.”

    O’Connor is survived by her three children Jake Reynolds, Roisin Waters, and Yeshua Bonadio.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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