Sinéad O'Connor Has Died

She was 56

Photo: Phil King

BY Kaelen BellPublished Jul 26, 2023

Irish songwriter Sinéad O'Connor — whose enormous voice and righteous, outspoken nature made her a star and inspiration to many — has died at 56. No cause of death has been given at this time. 

UPDATE (7/27, 10:30 a.m. ET): A Scotland Yard spokesperson has confirmed to the BBC that authorities found O'Connor "unresponsive" at her London home and "pronounced [her] dead at the scene." Her death is "not being treated as suspicious."

In a statement, the singer's family 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."

O'Connor was born at Dublin's Cascia House Nursing Home in December 1966. After several run-ins with the law, at age 15 she was placed in a Magdalene asylum called the Grianán Training Centre run by the Order of Our Lady of Charity. 

While at Grianán, volunteer Paul Byrne — drummer for the band In Tua Nua — heard O'Connor singing Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" and invited her to record a song with Tua Nua called  "Take My Hand." However, she was deemed too young to join the band. In 1984, O'Connor met Colm Farrelly and formed Ton Ton Macoute. Eventually, O'Connor was signed to Ensign Records as a solo artist, and would release her blockbuster debut The Lion and the Cobra in 1987. 

Her 1990 sophomore album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got featured her defining cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," which won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance. O'Connor refused to accept the nominations and award.

In 1992, O'Connor's appeared on SNL for a legendary a capella performance of Bob Marley's "War," during which she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II and told the audience to "fight the real enemy," before blowing out the candles that stood beside her and walking off stage. 

O'Connor would go on to release 10 albums over the span of her career. In 2018, O'Connor converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada Sadaqat, though continued to perform under the name Sinead O'Connor. In 2021, she released the memoir Rememberings, and a film on her life called Nothing Compares, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, was released in 2022. 

Last year, O'Connor lost her son Shane to suicide. She is survived by her three living children. 

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