Grammy-winning musician Sinead O’Connor has died at age 56.
The Irish Times was first to report the news on Wednesday, July 26. Her family confirmed in a statement to RTE, noting, “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.”
A cause of death was not immediately revealed.
O’Connor is best known for her rendition of Prince‘s hit song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which earned her nominations for Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form at the 1990 Grammys.
Following her 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, O’Connor released nine more studio albums and an EP. Her last full-length record, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, dropped in 2014.
“My beautiful son, Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God,” she tweeted at the time. “May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace.”
In a separate tribute, O’Connor dedicated Bob Marley’s “Ride Natty Ride” to her late son. “This is for my Shaney. The light of my life. The lamp of my soul. My blue-eye baby. You will always be my light. We will always be together. No boundary can separate us,” she wrote.
As O’Connor grieved, she shared a series of messages via social media seemingly threatening to take her own life. “I’ve decided to follow my son,” she wrote in one tweet, which was subsequently deleted. “There is no point living without him. Everything I touch, I ruin. I only stayed for him. And now he’s gone.”
Fans immediately grew concerned for O’Connor’s safety, but she later announced via Twitter that she was admitted to a hospital.
O’Connor previously expressed having suicidal thoughts in a September 2011 post. “Anyway … If any1 knows how I can kill myself … Without my kids finding out I did it deliberately pls tell me asa f–kin p,” she wrote at the time.
She later clarified via her blog that she believed “suicide is a sin” and “doesn’t solve your problems.” O’Connor explained, “It only makes them infinitely, un-countably worse. Its [sic] a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Which brings u a whole rake of new karmic problems. Its selfish [sic]. And s–t. So … Let’s not do it.”
Five years later, O’Connor denied reports that she was on suicide watch after allegedly threatening to jump off a bridge in Chicago. She called the rumors “bulls‑‑t” via Facebook.
The late singer experienced her fair share of ups and downs throughout her career — and was no stranger to igniting controversy. In 1992, she performed a now-infamous rendition of Marley’s “War” on Saturday Night Live as an act of protest against the Catholic Church. She held up a photo of Pope John Paul II during the episode and tore the image to pieces.
When asked about the incident 10 years later, O’Connor told Salon that she had no regrets. She further addressed the scandal in her 2021 book, Rememberings.
“Everyone wants a pop star, see? But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame,” she wrote.
O’Connor was married four times, first exchanging vows with music producer John Reynolds in 1989. The collaborators welcomed their son, Jake, two years before tying the knot.
Following her 1991 split from Reynolds, O’Connor welcomed daughter Roisin with journalist John Waters in 1996. A custody battle ensued, with O’Connor eventually agreeing for Roisin to live in Dublin with her father.
O’Connor married British journalist Nick Sommerlad in Wales in 2001, but the marriage fizzled out less than one year later. She subsequently welcomed sons Shane with Donal Lunny and Yeshua with Frank Bonadio.
Her third and fourth marriages were to longtime pal Steve Cooney from July 2010 to March 2011 and to therapist Barry Herridge, whom she wed in Las Vegas in December 2011. The twosome called it quits just 18 days later.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.