Controversial Irish singer Sinead O’Connor, once famously booed offstage for tearing up the Pope’s picture, declared on Thursday that she’s had it with the music business and with being famous.
“As of July 2003, I shall be retiring from the music business order to pursue a different career,” wrote O’Connor – who distinguished herself in the 1990s as much with her shaven head and brash opinions as with her music – on a Web site devoted to all things Sinead, (http://www.sinead-oconnor.com).
Although the site is not the official home page for the singer, Lellie Capwell, a spokeswomen for Vanguard Records, O’Connor’s U.S. label, confirmed the message was authentic.
Speculation of her retirement has surfaced in the past, but recent reports suggested O’Connor, 36, recently canceled several European performances because she is suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Some critics credit O’Connor, known for her angry visage and for wearing baggy clothes, with helping to alter the image of women in rock, paving the way for performers ranging from Liz Phair to Courtney Love to Alanis Morissette.
O’Connor was born in Dublin, Ireland on December 8, 1966 and endured a traumatic childhood. Her parents divorced when she was eight, and she has claimed her mother abused her.
After being expelled from Catholic school, O’Connor was arrested for shoplifting and shuttled off to a reformatory.
Her life was turned around by music however, when she was discovered by the drummer of Irish band, In Tua Nua, while singing at a wedding.
On the message on the Web site on Thursday, O’Connor asked to be left alone once she detaches herself from the music industry.
“I would request that as of July, since I seek no longer to be a ‘famous’ person, and instead I wish to live a ‘normal’ life, could people please afford me my privacy,” she says.
Before retiring, O’Connor plans to complete some projects.
“The last recordings I will make will be (believe it or not) a track for Dolly Parton’s upcoming tribute album and a track for (Irish accordionist) Sharon Shannon’s forthcoming album,” she wrote on the Web site.
O’Connor plans to release a concert and documentary DVD entitled, “Goodnight, Thank You. You’ve Been a Lovely Audience” in July, featuring older songs and selections from last year’s Vanguard album “Sean Nos Nua,” – a collection of traditional Irish songs which marked a return to her musical roots.
O’Connor’s second album, 1990’s “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart and established her as a major star, albeit a controversial one.
Public opinion has always been sharply divided because of her vocal opposition to what she has perceived as abuse of power by the Catholic Church in Ireland.
O’Connor also angered many Americans for refusing to perform in New Jersey if “The Star Spangled Banner” was played prior to her appearance, drawing criticism from crooner Frank Sinatra, who threatened to “kick her ass.”
She refused to appear on “Saturday Night Live” in response to the misogynist persona of guest host Andrew Dice Clay.
After finally appearing on the show in the early 1990s, O’Connor ended her performance by ripping up a photo of Pope John Paul II, resulting in a wave of condemnation unlike any she’d previously encountered.
Two weeks after the performance, O’Connor appeared at a Bob Dylan tribute concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and was promptly booed off the stage.