Sinead O’Connor was ‘happy and smiling’ just days before her shock death, neighbours have exclusively told MailOnline.
The world is mourning the death of the Grammy-winning Irish singer, who was propelled to international stardom in 1990 with her version of Prince’s hit ballad Nothing Compares 2 U which topped charts around the world.
Despite her incredible music success, O’Connor always wanted to be a protest singer rather than a pop star and over the years she became well-known for being outspoken about her social and political views.
Heart-rending final tweets indicated that the music legend remained devastated over her son Shane’s suicide aged 17 last year, writing in her last post that she had been living like an ‘undead night creature’.
Today her shocked neighbours reacted with disbelief at news of her desperate unhappiness, with Farath Moragammanage telling MailOnline: ‘I last saw her about two weeks ago. She seemed happy and was smiling and waved.
She was with a friend and she said she was going to Brixton with a friend from Ireland.
‘She told me she was a famous singer and she must have moved in about weeks six weeks or so ago. She was living there on her own.
‘Around 5pm on Wednesday I saw a private ambulance turn up and it was there for a few hours before leaving. I didn’t make the connection until I saw the news and realised it was my neighbour. It’s so sad. I feel so sorry for her.’
An eyewitness who lives close to the flat where Sinead O’Connor was found dead has told of his shock after seeing the response to the shock discovery
The block in south-east London where Sinead is believed to have recently moved in
Sinead revealed she was living like an ‘undead night creature’ since her son’s suicide last year in a poignant and desperate final Twitter post shortly before her death
Neighbour Clyre Day, 71, said: ‘I used to see her looking over the balcony and I remember she used to keep her lights and windows open all night’
Another neighbour said: ‘I would often see her on the street smoking a cigarette and we would exchange a few words every now and then.’
And another neighbour Clyre Day, 71, said: ‘I used to see her looking over the balcony and I remember she used to keep her lights and windows open all night.
‘She would talk to the locals and people knew who she was but I don’t think she had lived here very long.
‘I saw all the police outside on Wednesday, there must have been about six of them.
‘It’s very sad. I wouldn’t say I was a fan but I loved that one song that made her famous.’
The new build block where Sinead lives is a converted 1940s warehouse just a few minutes walk from Brixton.
She had filmed the apartment and revealed her plans to ‘write new tunes’ – as she hinted at a forthcoming album and a world tour.
No medical cause has been given for the death and an autopsy will be conducted with results taking ‘several weeks’, London Inner South Coroner’s Court has said this afternoon.
The Irish singer, best known for her 1990 global hit Nothing Compares 2 U, died on Wednesday morning.
Police were called to her home in the SE24 area of London, which covers Herne Hill and sits between Brixton and Dulwich. Notable SE24 residents include actors Mark Rylance, Olivia Colman and James Nesbitt.
A Met Police spokesman said: ‘Police were called at 11.18am on Wednesday, July 26 to reports of an unresponsive woman at a residential address in the SE24 area. Officers attended. A 56-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.
‘Next of kin have been notified. The death is not being treated as suspicious. A file will be prepared for the Coroner.’
The singer’s fans in Ireland, Britain and around the world are mourning her death at the age of 56
This is the kitchen where the Irish singer made her last Twitter video
In a video tour of her flat, she showed her guitar on the wall and said she was writing new songs
Fans arrive to leave tributes, flowers and candles outside the former Irish home of the late singer Sinead O’Connor in Bray, County Wicklow
A post-mortem examination to confirm the cause of Sinead’s death appears likely. It is not yet confirmed that she died in her own home.
It came as MailOnline revealed that Sinead said she wanted to go on tour next year in a buoyant post a fortnight ago, writing: ‘The b*tch is back’.
The star had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, especially after the death of her son Shane last year at the age of 17.
Family, friends and fans have been left heartbroken by her death yesterday. REM frontman Michael Stipe, US singer Tori Amos and Irish musician Shane MacGowan are among those who paid tribute to O’Connor’s talent and legacy.
There is also the question of her fortune, which some say could be £4million but others estimate may have dwindled to nothing despite royalties from her biggest hit Nothing Compares 2 U, originally written by Prince.
In a statement yesterday evening, her family said: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinead. Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.’
At the time of her death, the musician, who changed her name to Shuhada’ Sadaqat in 2018 when she converted to Islam, was spending her time between Roscommon and London.
Mother-of-four Ms O’Connor is survived by her three remaining children.
Sinead revealed she was living like an ‘undead night creature’ since her son’s suicide last year in a poignant and desperate final Twitter post shortly before her death.
Shane, 17, took his own life in January 2022 after escaping hospital while on suicide watch.
She said: ‘He was the love of my life, the lamp of my soul. We were one soul in two halves. He was the only person who ever loved me unconditionally.’
Sinead also posted a series of Spotify links to sad songs, including one she dedicated to ‘all mothers of suicided children’. She also posted links to How Can You Mend A Broken Heart by Al Green, as well as Curtis Mayfield’s Here But I’m Gone and No One Knows About A Good Thing.
Born Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor in Glenageary, Co. Dublin, in December 1966, the singer had a difficult childhood.
One of five children, O’Connor spoke out about being subjected to physical abuse at the hands of her mother, who died in a car crash in 1985.
At the age of 15, she was placed in a Magdalene asylum for shoplifting and truancy.
Ms O’Connor struggled since her son Shane, 17, took his own life in January 2022 after escaping hospital while on suicide watch. She posted this photo with her son last week
Sinead O’Connor (pictured in 1990) shared how she had been living as an ‘undead night creature’ since her son’s suicide last year in a cryptic final Twitter post
Sinead O’Connor, pictured at MTV Video Music Awards in 1990, has died aged 56
O’Connor (pictured on stage in Italy, 2014), was left heartbroken last year at the death of her beloved teenage son Shane after he took his own life
Sinead O’Connor, left, and Chrissie Hynde in central London for the UK launch of the Fourth United Nations Global Conference on Women in 1995
However, her musical talents were discovered while she was there and she released her first critically acclaimed album, The Lion And The Cobra, in 1987.
Her 1990 recording of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U earned O’Connor multiple Grammy Award nominations and, in 1991, she was named artist of the year by Rolling Stone magazine.
In her career she recorded ten solo albums, wrote songs for films and collaborated with other artists, but was also well known for her controversial outbursts.
In 1990, O’Connor said she would refuse to go on stage in New Jersey if The Star-Spangled Banner was performed.
And the singer, who frequently spoke out about the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, made global headlines two years later when she ripped up a photograph of Pope John Paul II while appearing as a guest on US TV show Saturday Night Live.
O’Connor was later ordained as a priest by a bishop from an independent Catholic group and announced that she wanted to be known as Mother Bernadette Mary.
In 2014, she revealed she had joined Sinn Féin and called for leader Gerry Adams to stand down.
O’Connor worried fans in August 2017 when she posted a video to Facebook in which she tearfully spoke about feeling ‘suicidal’ because of her mental health issues.
Married four times, O’Connor announced in an interview with a US magazine in 2000 that she was a lesbian and said she was bisexual in subsequent Press interviews. She also spoke openly about suffering from mental health problems. During an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, O’Connor revealed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had suffered with suicidal thoughts.
The mother-of-four told Winfrey that medication had helped her find more balance, but said it was ‘a work in progress’.
Sinead turned Prince’s minor song Nothing Compares 2 U into a global smash in 1990
In 2012, O’Connor cancelled a planned tour, saying her doctor had told her to rest after a ‘very serious breakdown’.
And, in November 2015, she posted a message on Facebook saying she had taken an overdose at a hotel in Ireland.
The next month, she said she had been detained in a hospital for mental health evaluation.
O’Connor was reported missing in the US in May 2016 when she failed to return from an early morning bike ride after making a series of Facebook posts about her family. October 2018 saw her announce she had converted to Islam and changed her name to Shuhada’ Sadaqat.
Following her son’s funeral last year, O’Connor posted a series of tweets in which she said she had ‘decided to follow my son’ but later apologised and said she was being admitted to hospital.
She is survived by her three children, Jake, 34, Róisín, 25, and Yeshua, 15.