Sinéad O'Connor's death not suspicious, police say as tributes pour in for Irish singer

ByCatherine Nicholls, Alli Rosenbloom and Lisa Respers France
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Sinéad O'Connor, gifted and provocative Irish singer, dies at 56
Sinéad O'Connor, the gifted and provocative Irish singer, known for "Nothing Compares 2 U," has died at 56.

The death of Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor is not being treated as suspicious, police say, after she was found unresponsive at a home in London.

Tributes have been pouring in for the 56-year-old, who found global fame with her version of the ballad Nothing Compares 2 U.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: "Police were called at 11:18hrs on Wednesday, 26 July to reports of an unresponsive woman at a residential address in the SE24 area.

"Officers attended. A 56-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Next of kin have been notified. The death is not being treated as suspicious."

No medical cause has been given in relation O'Connor's death, London's Inner South Coroner's Court announced on Thursday.

"The death of Sinéad O'Connor in Lambeth was notified to the Coroner on Wednesday 26th July 2023. No medical cause of death was given," the coroner's court said. "The Coroner therefore directed an autopsy (needs) to be conducted. The results of this may not (be) available for several weeks."

Once the results of the autopsy are known, the coroner's court will decide if an inquest is needed.

News of O'Connor's death broke on Wednesday and was confirmed in a statement from her family, who said they were "devastated."

Figures from the world of music and beyond have been mourning the loss.

"What Ireland has lost at such a relatively young age is one of our greatest and most gifted composers, songwriters and performers of recent decades, one who had a unique talent and extraordinary connection with her audience, all of whom held such love and warmth for her," Irish president Michael D. Higgins said in a statement sent to CNN.

"May her spirit find the peace she sought in so many different ways," his statement concluded.

"I hope you are at peace," actor Caitriona Balfe wrote on her Instagram page, adding "and with your baby boy. Thank you for sharing your soul with us and soothing us with your incredible voice beautiful Sinéad."

O'Connor contributed her vocals to the opening credits of Season 7 of acclaimed series "Outlander," in which Balfe stars. The actor's mention of O'Connor's "baby boy" was in reference to the singer's son Shane, who died by suicide at age 17 in 2022.

Belinda Carlisle, lead vocalist of the all-girls 80s rock band The Go-Gos, wrote "may she find peace now. Forever loved," on her Twitter page on Wednesday, while singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge wrote on her page that news of O'Connor's death "is such a tragedy."

"What a loss. She was haunted all her life. What a talent," Etheridge continued. "I remember my first Grammy show meeting this small shy Irish girl."

Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage, posted in honor of O'Connor to the band's Instagram page, writing, "I'm heartbroken."

"This disgusting world broke her and kept on breaking her. Godspeed dear fragile dove," the post continued. "Thank you for all the beauty and all the wise teachings you offered up to us. I wish you nothing but peace and I will love you for all of time."

O'Connor became as well known for her troubled life as her music. Born in Dublin in 1966, O'Connor spoke often of her difficult childhood as the third of four children. Her mother, she said, was troubled and abusive.

Sent away to reform school as a teen after she was caught shoplifting, O'Connor turned to music for solace and was discovered at the age of 15 by the drummer for the band In Tua Nua while singing at a wedding.

Her first album, "The Lion and the Cobra," was released to acclaim in 1987, but it was O'Connor's sophomore album, "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got" which broke her through as a well-known artist.

Her rendition of the Prince song "Nothing Compares 2 U" shot to No. 1 in 1990 and was nominated for multiple Grammys.

In 1992, O'Connor made headlines around the world after a controversial performance on "Saturday Night Live" in which she ripped a photo of Pope John Paul II in half while saying "Fight the real enemy." The incident was lampooned and ultimately harmed O'Connor's career because of the outrage.

In recent years, O'Connor was open about her struggle with addiction and mental health, and detailed her experience in her 2021 memoir "Rememberings."