Now the former punk is back, headlining a nationwide tour that is smashing into Sussex. And what a life she has led: being mobbed in shops and being lauded as pop’s next sensation, as well as friendships with major figures including David Bowie, Duran Duran and George Michael; but also rape, divorce, poverty and one of the most bruising legal battles in pop history as she was talked into signing a record deal at the height of her fame for the princely sum of £1.
“I seem to attract disasters,” she laughs, recalling a stint in Beirut just as the civil war there exploded. But while many would crawl under the nearest duvet if we had experienced a quarter of O’Connor’s turbulent life, at 60 the fiery chanteuse is one of the most cheerful, life affirming people you could meet.
“I would like to do a little less but I have to pay the mortgage,” she says matter of factly, and you wonder if any other singer of her fame even has a mortgage (she bought her cottage in Ireland at auction for just £20,000). “I am away eight months a year, but shouldn’t complain as I love what I do.”
“I have had to survive,” says O’Connor, whose hits include Eighth Day, D-Days and Will You, and who wrote all the songs for Breaking Glass. Of the contract she signed in 1980, the day before she was offered the lead in the hit film (an offer she wasn’t told about before signing): “It was the biggest, most foolish thing I’ve ever done.” Is she jealous of those like Duran Duran who she helped to stardom? “No, not often. You have to accept the twists of fate.” She does, though, confess the trauma sent her “loopy loo”.
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