In a 2009 interview, O’Connor said that she “loved” Prince’s music before covering the track, which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and appeared on her 1990 album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. “Did I ever meet Prince? I did and, we didn’t like each other. At all,” O’Connor told Uncut magazine in 2013. “I’m not going to go into it, but we detest each other. It got violent too, which is why I can’t go into it, but it is a very funny story. I’ll tell it when I’m an old lady and I write my book.”
O’Connor finally opened up about her alleged encounter with Prince — who died in April 2016 at age 57 — in her 2021 memoir, Rememberings. According to O’Connor, the duo met briefly in 1988 but didn’t really talk until after her version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” became a hit.
“[I] thought: He must be wanting to celebrate the song doing so well!” O’Connor wrote. “There’ll be cake! Princes always have cake!”
Their meeting, however, was allegedly not so pleasant. According to O’Connor, Prince chastised her for using curse words in interviews. “I don’t work for you,” she recalled telling him. “If you don’t like it, you can f–k yourself.”
O’Connor went on to claim that Prince and his assistant (whom she referred to as Igor) kept trying to serve her soup after she said she didn’t want any. After that, Prince allegedly asked O’Connor to have a pillow fight, and she agreed.
“Only on the first thump I get, I realize he’s got something in the pillow, stuffed down the end, designed to hurt,” she wrote. “He ain’t playing at all. I get really annoyed. And also really frightened.”
Prince had already died when Rememberings debuted, but O’Connor seemingly had no regrets about telling her story about him in the book. “You’ve got to be crazy to be a musician, but there’s a difference between being crazy and being a violent abuser of women,” she told The New York Times in May 2021, adding that she wasn’t fazed at all by the fact that Prince wrote her most beloved track. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s my song.”
Prince publicly praised the song in 1990, but he was famously not a fan of other people covering his work. When Maroon 5 covered “Kiss” in 2013, Prince slammed the band for including their version on their album. “I do pay performance royalties on others’ songs I perform live, but I’m not recording these songs and putting them up for sale,” he told Billboard at the time. “Why do we need to hear another cover of a song someone else did? Art is about building a new foundation, not just laying something on top of what’s already there.”
Last year, Prince’s estate denied permission to use O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” in a Showtime documentary called Nothing Compares.
“Nothing compares to Prince’s live version with Rosie Gaines that is featured on the Hits 1 album,” Prince’s sister Sharon Nelson told Billboard in a statement in September 2022, referring to a version of the song that debuted in 1993. “I didn’t feel [Sinéad] deserved to use the song my brother wrote in her documentary so we declined. His version is the best.”
O’Connor’s family confirmed her death on Wednesday, July 26. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” they told RTE in a statement. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.” She was 56.