Sinead O'Connor Is Dead at 56

No cause of death for the Irish singer is immediately released
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2023 1:26 PM CDT
Sinead O'Connor Is Dead at 56
Irish singer Sinead O'Connor performs at Akvarium Klub in Budapest, Hungary, Dec. 9, 2019.   (Marton Monus/MTI via AP, File)

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor has died at age 56, the BBC reports. Her family confirmed the news in a statement but did not reveal a cause of death. "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead," it reads. "Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time." O'Connor became a household name in 1990 with her breakthrough song "Nothing Compares 2 U," which was written by Prince, per the AP. Two years later, she famously tore up a photo of the pope on Saturday Night Live and denounced the Catholic Church, engulfing her career in controversy.

O'Connor released 10 albums in all, the most recent one in 2014, notes People. In her 2021 book Rememberings, O'Connor reflected on fame and that pope controversy: "A lot of people say or think that tearing up the pope's photo derailed my career. That's not how I feel about it," she wrote. "I feel that having a number-one record derailed my career and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track." In its obituary, Rolling Stone recalls her "striking voice" and her "bold public stances" on everything from child abuse to war to organized religion. The BBC notes that her rise to fame began in the late 1980s with the release of her album The Lion and the Cobra, but she achieved superstardom with the subsequent release of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.

O'Connor, however, also struggled with addiction, particularly later in life. And she made headlines in 2022 after the death of her 17-year-old son, when she wrote on social media that she intended to "follow" him. She was hospitalized after those posts. The Irish Times notes that she converted to Islam in 2018 and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, although she had continued to perform under her well-known name. Her music "was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare," said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar upon her death. (More Sinead O'Connor stories.)

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