Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, known for her 1990 hit single Nothing Compares 2 U, has died at the age of 56, the Irish Times and national broadcaster RTE reported on Wednesday.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” her family confirmed in a statement to RTE. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”
Her passing follows the death of her 17-year-old son, Shane O’Connor, early last year.
She was born Sinéad Marie-Bernadette O’Connor on December 8, 1966, in Dublin, Ireland. She more recently converted to Islam and began going by the name Shuhada Sadaqat, though continued to use Sinéad O’Connor professionally.
Her emotive cover of the Prince song topped charts from Europe to Australia, and became as well known for the intense close-up of the promotional video.
Nothing Compares 2 U received three Grammy nominations and was the featured track off her acclaimed album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, which helped lead Rolling Stone to name her Artist of the Year in 1991.
O’Connor was also known for her outspoken views on religion, sex, feminism and war.
A critic of the Catholic Church well before allegations of sexual abuse were widely reported, she will be remembered by many for ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a television appearance on Saturday Night Live, and denouncing the church as the enemy.
Among other controversies, she feuded with Frank Sinatra over her refusal to allow the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner at one of her shows. In 1989 she declared her support for the Irish Republican Army, a statement she retracted a year later.
O’Connor announced she was retiring from music in 2003, but she continued to record new material. Her most recent album was I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, released in 2014.
Married four times, O’Connor was open about her private life, from her sexuality to her mental illness. She said she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and on social media wrote openly about taking her own life. When her teenage son Shane died by suicide in 2022, O’Connor tweeted there was “no point living without him” and was soon hospitalised.