Saturday, April 13, 2024

RIP Sinead O’Connor: She Was Gentle, Had a Sense of Humor, and Nothing Compared to Her Amazing Early Success


I was away this afternoon when the news broke that Sinead O’Connor had died age 56.

In 2012, I finally met Sinead when she came to New York and sang at Curtis Mayfield tribute at Lincoln Center. She was an offbeat choice, but her performance was stellar. She was so keen to talk afterwards. We had a grand time. We also exchanged emails, and for a short time we corresponded. Eventually she faded out, succumbed I think to personal demons. But I’m so glad we had that moment.

Sinead O’Connor had extraordinary success from the start. Her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” was a gigantic hit. It was number 1 for weeks, you couldn’t away from it. The song came from her second album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got,” released in March 1990. The album sold 2 million copies in the US and more than a million around the world. O’Connor was just 23 years old. The fame and success were too much for her. Her next album was a collection of jazz standards. A third album in 1994 was angry and dark. Then came the “Saturday Night Live” incident. All the good will from the hit album and song were gone.

At the height of the “No One Compares 2 U” fever, O’Connor played 2 shows at the Beacon Theater, May 9th and 10th, 1990. I went to one of them and sat close to the stage. To say the show was sold out is an understatement. Here was a relative newcomer. and the Beacon was jammed. The fans screamed like it was Beatlemania, or now Swift Mania. Sinead could barely get the words out since everyone was singing along with her. The reaction to her was a bit overwhelming and frightening. How could anything in the future compare to this?

Obviously there was a lot of personal pain and loss since the 90s. It always seemed like she sabotaged her career on purpose. We may never understand what happened. But at least she’s out of pain now, and has left a legacy that is yet to be explored.

Condolences to her family, friends, and fans.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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