Sinead O'Connor, 'Nothing Compares 2 U' singer, dead at 56

The Irish singer-songwriter won a Grammy in 1991.

July 26, 2023, 2:54 PM

Irish singer-songwriter and activist Sinead O'Connor has died at age 56.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time," O'Connor's family said in a statement provided to ABC News.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar acknowledged O'Connor's death, declaring, "Really sorry to hear of the passing of Sinead O'Connor. Her music was loved around the world and her talent was unmatched and beyond compare. Condolences to her family, her friends and all who loved her music."

Born December 8, 1966, in Dublin, O'Connor began her music career in the 1980s. In 1990, she released her sophomore album, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got," featuring her cover of the Prince-written song "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Propelled in part by a haunting video that played in heavy MTV rotation, O'Connor's version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" became a worldwide hit and was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys. "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance, though O'Connor refused to accept the award.

PHOTO: Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at Glastonbury, U.K., in 1990.
Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at Glastonbury, U.K., in 1990.
Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

O'Connor garnered further controversy during her performance on "Saturday Night Live" in 1992, when she infamously ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II while declaring "Fight the real enemy." The backlash effectively ended her general popularity in the U.S.

Still, O'Connor continued to release new music, putting out a total of 10 studio albums, the most recent of which was 2014's "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss." In a July Facebook post, O'Connor shared that she was finishing a new record set to be released in 2024. She also released a cover of the theme song to the TV show "Outlander" earlier in 2023.

O'Connor long shared her experience with lifelong mental health struggles, which she also recounted in her 2021 memoir, "Rememberings." A documentary about her titled "Nothing Compares" was released in 2022.

O'Connor changed her name to Magda Davitt in 2017, and then to Shuhada' Sadaqat in 2018. She was married four times and had four children. Her son Shane died in 2022.