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Sinead O’Connor, Legendary Irish Singer, Dead At 56

Performer is best known for her 1990 single 'Nothing Compares 2 U'
Sinead O'Connor performs in London on Dec. 16, 2019 (photo: Gus Stewart / Redferns).

Sinead O’Connor, an extraordinary artist, a one-of-a-kind human being, and famously troubled soul who rose to worldwide fame with the 1990 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” and a different, unwelcome kind of fame when she controversially ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II live on Saturday Night Live in 1992, has left us. She died today, at the age of 56, per the Irish Times.

No information about the circumstances has been released yet and the family, understandably, want us to all leave them alone. And we all should. Sinead struggled with her mental well-being for years, and suffered the tragic loss of her son 18 months ago, from which she never seemed to recover. She frequently quit the music business, which we’re pretty sure she hated, only to return when the spirit moved her.

Since the incident on SNL, which was a protest against the Catholic Church (and which, given what subsequently came out regarding child abuse and the Church’s inexcusable cover ups, was justified and prescient), Sinead was often in the news for her personal life rather than for her music: in 1999 she declared she had been ordained a priest, and in 2007 revealed she was bipolar (she later called that a misdiagnosis). In 2021 she said she was going to quit music completely to become a writer. That same year, she released her staggeringly touching autobiography, Rememberings.

Read SPIN‘s 1991 cover story on O’Connor here. We had quite a history with her and she credited us with discovering her, when no one else in the American press was interested. Recently, Managing Editor Liza Lentini did this deep interview with her.

We will update this story as we learn more.