Sinead O’Connor, the outspoken Irish singer-songwriter best known for her strong, evocative voice, as showcased on her biggest hit, a breathtaking rendition of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, as well as her political provocations onstage and off, has died. She was 56.
Her family announced the death in a statement, according to the BBC and the Irish public service broadcaster RTE. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” the statement said. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”
Recognisable by her wide eyes and shaved head, O’Connor released 10 studio albums, beginning with the alternative hit The Lion and the Cobra in 1987. She went on to sell millions of albums worldwide, breaking out with the 1990 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.
That album, featuring Nothing Compares 2 U, a No. 1 hit and MTV staple, won a Grammy Award for best alternative music performance — although O’Connor boycotted the ceremony, in 1991, citing what she called the show’s excessive commercialism.
O’Connor rarely shrank from controversy. In 1992 on Saturday Night Live, she ended a cappella performance of Bob Marley’s War by ripping a photo of Pope John Paul II as a stance against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.