Sinéad O’Connor, “Nothing Compares 2 U” Singer, Dead at 56

The Irish singer lost her son to suicide 18 months ago

Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at The Roundhouse on August 12, 2014 in London.
Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at The Roundhouse on August 12, 2014 in London.
Redferns via Getty Images

Sinéad O’Connor, the Irish singer best known for her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” has reportedly died at the age of 56. No official cause of death has been released yet, though O’Connor had been open about her struggles with mental health issues over the years, and her final tweet, posted on July 17, mentioned that she has been “living as an undead night creature” since her 17-year-old son Shane died by suicide 18 months ago.

O’Connor released 10 studio albums throughout the course of her career, including 1990’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which contained her timeless cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and earned her four Grammy nominations. O’Connor was nominated for Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Music Video – Short Form, and Best Alternative Music Performance, winning the latter category. She refused to accept the nominations and the award.

Sinead O’Connor Says Prince Tried to Beat Her Up, Left a Female Band Member with Broken Ribs
The singer also claims he was “into some pretty dark drugs at the time”

On Oct. 3, 1992, she sparked controversy with her performance on Saturday Night Live, singing an a capella version of Bob Marley’s “War” and tearing up a picture of Pope John Paul II while saying, “Fight the real enemy.” The gesture was meant to be in protest over the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse of children — an issue that Pope John Paul II would not publicly acknowledge as a problem until 2001. NBC received thousands of complaints after her performance, and the following week, host Joe Pesci held up a photo of the Pope, saying he had taped it back together.

“Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer,” O’Connor wrote about the incident in her 2021 memoir. “I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame.”

In January 2022, O’Connor’s son Shane died by suicide. Her final tweet was a photo of the two together, captioned with, “Been living as undead night creature since. . 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.”

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