In a career marked by controversies as well as extraordinary talent, Sinead O’Connor‘s longstanding feud with Prince stands out as one of the stranger chapters of a troubled life.
O’Connor’s death at age 56 was confirmed on Wednesday in a statement from the Irish singer-songwriter’s family, who requested privacy and did not disclose a cause of death.
In 1990, O’Connor was first propelled to international super-stardom with her version of Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written and composed by Prince for his side project The Family in 1985.
The iconic music video for O’Connor’s version of the song focused almost entirely on a close-up frame of the shaven-headed star singing with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Although Prince publicly praised her version of the song, in various interviews and remarks over the years O’Connor claimed the American artist was furious at her success, and had summoned her to his property in Hollywood for a dressing down.
In 1990, O’Connor was first propelled to international super-stardom with her version of Nothing Compares 2 U, a song written and composed by Prince
In a career marked by controversies as well as extraordinary talent, Sinead O’Connor’s longstanding feud with Prince (above) stands out as one of the stranger chapters
O’Connor at various times claimed that Prince’s butler had pressured her to eat soup against her will, and that Prince had challenged her to a pillow fight, but then assaulted her with a hard object concealed in the pillow.
In a 2004 interview, O’Connor backpedaled on the claims, calling Prince a ‘sweet guy’ and saying the story had been exaggerated in the press.
But after Prince died of a fentanyl overdose in 2016, O’Connor only seemed to step up her verbal attacks against him, telling police investigators Prince was ‘into devil worship’ and a woman-beater.
‘It’s not just drugs he was into, it was darkness,’ she told investigators from the Carver County Sheriff’s Office two weeks after Prince died, in a recorded interview that was later made public.
O’Connor told the investigators, who were probing Prince’s death in his Minnesota mansion Paisley Park, that the singer had ‘a drug habit for the entire of his life’ and ‘used hard drugs commonly.’
Then in her 2021 memoir Rememberings, O’Connor went into great detail on the feud, claiming Prince ‘terrorized’ her in fury after her 1990 cover song.
She wrote that Prince summoned her to his Hollywood mansion, scolded her for swearing in interviews, and harangued his butler to serve her soup though she repeatedly refused it.
She claimed that Prince suggested airing out their differences in a friendly pillow fight, but then assaulted her with ‘something hard’ slipped into a pillowcase.
As she tried to leave his ‘macabre’ mansion, O’Connor said Prince physically blocked her and dragged her toward his car, prompting her to flee on foot to a neighboring home and desperately ring the doorbell, at which point she says Prince backed off.
O’Connor is seen performing Nothing Compares 2 U in concert. She claimed that Prince was furious about her cover version, though he publicly praised her
O’Connor at various times claimed that Prince’s butler had pressured her to eat soup against her will, and that Prince had assaulted her during a pillow fight
The Irish singer claims there were a number of reasons why Prince allegedly became violent during their meeting.
‘Firstly, Prince didn’t like people covering his songs,’ she wrote in the memoir.
‘Secondly, he had all these female protégés and he was annoyed that I wasn’t one of them.
‘Thirdly, my manager Steve Fargnoli had been his manager and they were involved in a legal case. On top of all this he was a woman-beating ****. I’m certainly not the only woman he laid a hand on.’
Publicly, however, Prince praised O’Connor’s cover version, saying: ‘I love it, it’s great! I look for cosmic meaning in everything. I think we just took that song as far as we could, then someone else was supposed to come along and pick it up.’
It was far from the only feud or controversy in O’Connor’s career, however.
She also feuded with Frank Sinatra over her refusal to allow the playing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at one of her shows.
In 1989 she declared her support for the Irish Republican Army, a statement she retracted a year later. Around the same time, she skipped the Grammy ceremony, saying it was too commercialized.
Most famously, O’Connor made headlines in October 1992 when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while appearing live on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and denounced the Catholic Church as an ‘enemy’.
The next week, Joe Pesci hosted Saturday Night Live, held up a repaired photo of the Pope and said that if he had been on the show with O’Connor he ‘would have gave her such a smack.’
She also feuded with Frank Sinatra over her refusal to allow the playing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at one of her shows
Pictured: Possibly the last image of O’Connor, from a video she posted on July 9 to Twitter
In 1999, O’Connor caused uproar in Ireland when she became a priestess of the breakaway Latin Tridentine Church – a position that was not recognized by the mainstream Catholic Church.
In 2013, O’Connor publicly feuded with Miley Cyrus, after the younger singer paid homage to O’Connor’s music video for Nothing Compares 2 U in her own video for Wrecking Ball.
In response, O’Connor published a string of furious open letters accusing Cyrus of ‘behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism.’
‘The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be prostituted… it’s so not cool Miley. It’s dangerous,’ O’Connor wrote in one of the letters.
O’Connor announced in 2018 that she had converted to Islam and later adopted the name Shuhada Sadaqat – although she continued to use Sinead O’Connor professionally.
O’Connor was public about her mental illness, saying that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
She posted a Facebook video in 2017 from a New Jersey motel where she had been living, saying that she was staying alive for the sake of others and that if it were up to her, she’d be ‘gone.’
When her teenage son Shane died by suicide last year, O’Connor tweeted there was ‘no point living without him’ and was soon hospitalized.
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