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Fame, Prince and the loss of her son - Sinead O'Connor in her own words
27 July 2023, 09:16 | Updated: 27 July 2023, 14:34
Tributes have been paid to Irish music icon Sinead O'Connor who has died aged 56.
The Irish singer, who shot to stardom in 1990 following her cover of then-unreleased Prince track Nothing Compares 2 U, passed away after years of mental health battles.
He death comes a year after the mother-of-four's son Shane, 17, took his own life in January 2022 after escaping hospital while on suicide watch. Details surrounding Sinead's death remain unknown at this time.
On being a young woman entering the music scene in the 90s when the industry was still dominated by men:
I got into the record business at a time when record executives were a little frisky, let's put it that way. Not in a manner that they would cross a line if you said no but they would certainly try their very best.
In some ways, you had to protect yourself straight off. You would be better to have a bag over your head really. But they wanted me to grow my hair really long and wear mini skirts and all that kind of stuff because they reckoned I would look much prettier. So I went straight around to the barber and shaved the rest of my hair off.
On being threatened by Prince
“He invited me to his house in Los Angeles and started to give out to me for swearing in interviews,.
"When I told him to go f**k himself, he got very upset and became quite threatening, physically. I ended up having to escape.
“It was a very frightening experience. He summoned me to his house one night and I foolishly went alone. He was uncomfortable with the fact I wasn’t a protégé of his and that I’d just recorded the song.
“He ordered that I don’t swear in my interviews. I told him where he could go and he went for me. He went upstairs and got a pillow and he had something hard in the pillow. I ran out of his house, hiding behind a tree.”
On being labelled a troublemaker
I don't do anything in order to cause trouble. It just so happens that what I do naturally causes trouble. I'm proud to be a troublemaker.
On ripping up the Pope's photo on US tv
“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.”
Reflecting on the backlash to the incident in the 2022 documentary about her life, Nothing Compares, she said: “I wasn’t thinking to myself ‘I must be strong’. I didn’t know I was strong. An artist’s job is sometimes to create the difficult conversations that need to be had. That’s what art is for.
“They all thought I should be made a mockery of for throwing my career down the drain. I didn’t say I wanted to be a pop star. It didn’t suit me to be a pop star. So I didn’t throw away any career that I wanted. It didn’t change my attitude.”
On inspiring other artists
If I hope for anything as an artist, it’s that I inspire certain people to be who they really are. My audiences seem to be people who have been given a hard time for being who they are.
On her struggles with mental health
“I was mental. But I don’t regret those ‘embarrassing’ videos. I’m quite proud, in a weird way, that I was that open. The nature of a singer is to be emotionally honest. I’ve always been pretty open. And I have no regrets.”
On whether god exists
I don't like the word god, I think it's off-putting. It has become an off-putting word. I definitely think there is a presence which responds to the human voice. I don't think it cares if you call it Fred or Daisy, you know? But there is something out there. Definitely.
On the death of her son
Paying tribute to Shane following his funeral in January 2022, she said: “We just said goodbye to our beautiful angel, Shaney. Very lovely Hindu ceremony. Shane will have loved it.
“I put a few packs of fags in the coffin for him in case there’s none in heaven. He’ll have loved that too.”
Final post on social media
Shane “was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul. We were one soul in two halves.“He was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally.”