‘She was fearless, outspoken, brave’.
For many, Sinead O’Connor was one of the greatest ever Irish singers and a force of musical nature. For others that grew up when her fame was at her peak, she was an icon that always spoke her mind and cared not for the consequences.
Over the years, whether her star was rising, falling or holding steady [something she always dismissed], O’Connor was involved in big, bold moments, incidents and beefs with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Joe Pesci, Kenny Everett, Gay Byrne, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian and many, many more. She had her stances and beliefs, and nothing would hold her back.
Following the news of her death, on Wednesday (July 26), people have taken to social media to share many thousands of tributes to O’Connor.
One outstanding moment, and a career-defining one – certainly for her music career – was a Saturday Night Live appearance in October 1992. Her protest was about child abuse in the Catholic Church, and she chose one of the biggest stages to make her voice heard.
Without informing producers of SNL in advance of her musical appearance, singing Bob Marley’s song, War, O’Connor she changed the lyrics to a crucial line. She sang:
“Until the ignoble and unhappy regimes which hold all of us through child abuse, yeah. Child abuse, yeah.”
She then produced a colour image of Pope John Paul II and ripped it in two.
Sinead O’Connor has died today.
She was fearless, outspoken, brave.
She was famous for calling out the roman Catholic Church for abuse of children and then ripping a photo of the pope at the time. This caused controversy at the time but she was right.
RIP #SineadOConnor pic.twitter.com/NE5uSSYC8p
— Rob Walker (@llamedos77) July 26, 2023
Sinead O’Connor doubled down on lyrics
It led to a huge fire-storm in the United States, and across the world, with many stations refusing to play her music and venues cancelling gigs. At the time, child abuse within the church environs was not widely known or, at least, discussed or tackled.
Not long after that SNL appearance, the Dubliner performed at a 30th anniversary concert for Bob Dylan and, amid a din of loud boos from sections of the crowd, sang ‘War’ again, and kept in the child abuse line. She then left the stage in tears and was embraced by the singer, Kris Kristofferson.
Many are now saying that O’Connor was right all along with some going so far as to label O’Connor as ‘prophetic’. Others, of a younger ilk, were only coming around to the news about that defiant SNL moment.
Farewell to one of the greatest Irish musicians of all time. Sinead O’Connor had the balls to stand up and challenge the Catholic Church at a time most didn’t. A prolific social campaigner. Gone way too young. RIP Sinead. pic.twitter.com/23dbPbEq19
— Stephen Minihane (@SMinihane87) July 26, 2023
Never knew until now Sinéad O’Connor ripped up that picture of Pope John Paul in 92 on SNL because she was protesting the child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. She was brave, prescient and so real when so many of her peers didn’t have the courage to go there then.Godspeed.
— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) July 27, 2023
Greil Marcus named Sinead O’Connor his '92 artist of the year in City Pages, in part for ripping up a picture of the Pope on SNL to protest sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and I’ve never forgotten his last line: “Don’t criticize her until you’ve done anything half as brave.”
— Jim Walsh (@JimWalshMPLS) July 26, 2023
This statement by Sinéad O'Connor about the consequences of tearing the picture of the Pope: pic.twitter.com/NEHq3Lr0xG
— Sinead O'Shea (@SineadEOShea) July 26, 2023
Sinead O’Connor admitted picture rip was career defining
As the post above notes, Sinead O’Connor stated that ripping up the picture of Pope John Paul II had defined her career ‘in a beautiful f***ing way’.
“People say, ‘Oh, you f***ed up your career’ but they’re talking about the career they had in mind for me’.”
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