- 20 Sep 12
In a new interview in Hot Press, Sinéad O’Connor has revealed completely new facts about the most notorious incident in her career...
For the first time, Sinéad O’Connor has revealed the full story behind the extraordinary night when she ripped up a picture of the Pope on live television in America.
The Irish singer – at the height of her success at the time, following her worldwide No. 1 with the Prince song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – sparked international outrage and condemnation when she shredded a photograph of Pope John Paul II on the iconic US television show Saturday Night Live.
Now, in an in-depth and hugely revelatory interview 20 years on, the controversial artist has opened up to Hot Press about the performance that changed her career – and her life – forever.
Speaking exclusively to Olaf Tyaransen, the 45-year-old singer explains that Bob Geldof unwittingly provided the inspiration.
“When the Boomtown Rats went to No. 1 in England with ‘Rat Trap’,” she recalls, “Geldof went on Top of The Pops and ripped up a photo of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, who had been No. 1 for weeks and weeks before (with ‘Summer Nights’ from the Grease soundtrack, which topped the UK charts for seven weeks in 1978).
“And I thought, ‘Yeah, fuck! What if someone ripped up a picture of the Pope?’ Half of me was just like, ‘Jesus, I’d love to just see what’d happen’.”
Sinéad descibes in detail to Hot Press how, on the night, she tricked the production crew into helping her with a gesture of defiance that would become notorious and divide onlookers and fans for years.
In a stunning revelation that will give fresh material to students of Irish Catholicism and of Freud alike to contemplate, she also states for the first time that the actual photograph of Pope John Paul II that she ripped up had been taken from the wall of her late mother’s home. “The photo itself had been on my mother’s bedroom wall since the day the fucker was enthroned in 1978,” she confides.
In the interview she also describes the extraordinary aftermath of an incident, which generated a staggering 4,484 complaints.
In the interview, Sinéad also talks in detail about her involvement with a Rasta crew in New York, who were heavily involved in the drugs trade – and the real meaning of her famous call to “fight the real enemy.”
“I found out some of these guys were sending kids around with guns in their schoolbags, and drugs in their schoolbags, and all of that,” she confesses. “And I was like, ‘What the fuck are you doing? You’re saying you’re Rastas, and you’re fucking up Rasta altogether!’”
O’Connor was banned from Saturday Night Live for life following the incident, but – over the course of a fascinating interview that sets the record straight on some of the most critical incidents in an extraordinary career – she insists that she still has no regrets.
* Read the full interview in the current issue of Hot Press (an Arthur’s Day special, with Mumford & Sons on the cover).