Sinead O’Connor is one of the most famous and controversial Irish singers of all time.
She has enjoyed huge success all over the world but sadly issues over her mental health have interrupted her career in music.
She was born in 1966 in Glenageary, Co Dublin. She had a troubled childhood. She was the third of five children and her parents separated when she was eight.
She went to live with her mother where she claims to have been a victim of physical abuse.
Troubled teen sent to Grianan Training Centre
When she was a teenager, she went to live with her father. However, she had become rather a wild child and was placed in a Magdalene Asylum called the Grianan Training Centre following incidents such as truancy and shoplifting.
It was run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity. O’Connor hated the conformity that was imposed at Grianan but she did have time and resources to develop her song writing talents.
While she was there she met Paul Byrne, whose sister worked at Grianan as a volunteer. Byrne was a drummer and he invited O’Connor to record the song, Take my Hand, with his band, In Tua Nua.
However, she wasn’t offered a permanent place in the band as she was only 15 years old.
Ton Ton Macoute – O’Connor’s first band
A couple of years later, she attended Newtown school where she enjoyed more freedom. Her passion for music continued and she recorded her first solo demo.
She formed a band, Ton Ton Macoute, in 1984 with Columb Farrelly. She left school and moved to Dublin with the band. They received a lot of positive reviews, mainly for O’Connor’s voice and stage presence.
She caught the attention of Fachtna O’Ceallaigh, who was the former head of U2’s Mother Records. She wrote a song with the Edge called, Heroine, for the movie, Captive.
The Lion and the Cobra
O’Connor went into the studio to record her debut album but the recordings were scrapped after she fell out with producer, Mick Glossop. Her influences at the time included David Bowie, Bob Marley, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Pretenders. O’Connor and Glossop didn’t share the same vision for the album.
She then became pregnant but she went back into the studio to record and produce her album herself.
It was called The Lion and the Cobra and was released in 1987. It was a hit with critics and saw her gain a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock vocal.