Irish music legend and '90s icon, Sinead O’Connor passes away at 56

Remembering the singer and songwriter, who became an instant global sensation with her track, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’.

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Sinead O’Connor, the voice behind the iconic track, Nothing Compares 2 U, passed away yesterday (July 26). The Irish singer-songwriter started her music career with a dream debut in the album, The Lion and the Cobra, which ranked in the Top 40 in the UK and the US. Throughout her career in the '80s and '90s, she delivered a host of chartbusters, and became a household name with Nothing Compares 2 U, written by Prince from the album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. O'Connor's last studio album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, released in 2014.

Her family, in a statement, 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.” Her death comes 18 months after the passing away of her 17-year-old son Shane who died after leaving a hospital while being on suicide watch. She had three other children. 

Having left behind an everlasting legacy, tributes soon started pouring in with Irish PM Leo Varadkar paying an emotional tribute followed by Bryan Adams and others from the music fraternity. 



While she was popular for her music, Connor was also embroiled in many controversies, especially around child abuse, war, and religion. She was always a rebel and never bowed down to the norm. She chose to shave her head to prove to the executives of record labels who conformed to prevalent beauty standards. In a Facebook video in 2017, she let people know that she felt an obligation to live for the sake of others, and would have preferred to pass away if given the choice.

Her memoir in 2021, titled Rememberings, was a detailed account of how she suffered in her growing up years, her issues with kleptomania, the effects of being a pop star, her break-ups, and her mental health. The next year, the documentary Nothing Compares, chronicled her controversies with the Catholic church, the Irish constitution, the Grammys, the American national anthem, and many others. An incident that the audience surely remembers was her ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992, as a mark of protest against sexual abuse within the church. 

Religion and spirituality were an integral part of her life. She had “the lion of Judah shall break every chain” inked on the back of her hand along with a tattoo of Jesus on her chest and “all things must pass” on her neck.

In 2018, she converted to Islam and adopted the name, Shuhada’ Sadaqat, which she used along with her birth name on social media. 

This year, she received the inaugural award and a standing ovation for Classic Irish Album at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize awards for her second record 'I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got', released in 1990. She dedicated it to Ireland’s refugee community. “You’re very welcome in Ireland,” she said. “I love you very much and I wish you happiness.” The judging panel called her album "a stunning body of work by an Irish artist, scorching with originality in songs that are as resonant today as they were more than 30 years ago".

O’Connor, via her Facebook page earlier this month, said that she’d moved back to London after 23 years and was working on an album to be released next year. Furthermore, she also revealed her plans to tour Australia and New Zealand in 2024, and Europe, the United States, and other territories in 2025.