Sinéad O’Connor, the Irish singer-songwriter whose cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” was one of the biggest hits of the ’90s, has died at 56.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” her family said in a statement to The Irish Times. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”
O’Connor received critical acclaim and worldwide success for her music, but she also struggled with mental health issues and was the center of numerous controversies due to her outspoken political and social views.
Born in Dublin on December 8, 1966, O’Connor had a difficult childhood and alleged that her mother was physically abusive, leaving her with lasting trauma and inspiring a lifelong advocacy for abused children. She was placed in an asylum for shoplifting and truancy issues when she was 15, and discovered a gift for music.
She recorded her first album, 1987’s The Lion and the Cobra, when she was 20. The album charted worldwide and earned O’Connor a Grammy nomination. Slant Magazine and Pitchfork both listed it as one of the best albums of the 1980s, with Slant calling it “one of the most electrifying debuts in rock history” and Pitchfork praising the album’s “themes of patriotism, sexuality, Catholicism, and social oppression set the stage for a career marked by a resolute sense of independence.”
O’Connor achieved worldwide fame, acclaimed for her unique and expressive voice and recognizable for her distinct shaved head, which she said was an assertion against traditional views of women.