After years of speculation, Irish musician Sinead O’Connor has revealed her rationale behind her infamous Saturday Night Live appearance in which she destroyed a photo of the pope. The singer dropped the bombshell in her new memoir, Rememberings, with an excerpt published this week by Rolling Stone.
The event occurred in October 1992, when the singer shredded a picture of Pope John Paul II onstage while performing on SNL. The stunt got the Grammy winner exiled from NBC for life and also booed offstage at a Bob Dylan tribute concert a few weeks later, Rolling Stone reported.
At the time, O’Connor, now 54, said she had torn up the photo to protest sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church. However, she recently revealed that the story goes much deeper.
“My intention had always been to destroy my mother’s photo of the pope,” she wrote. “It represented lies and liars and abuse. The type of people who kept these things were devils like my mother.”
O’Connor wrote that she visited her mother’s home after her death and “took down from her bedroom wall the only photo she ever had up there, which was of Pope John Paul II”.
The performer said “it was taken when he visited Ireland in 1979”. She recounted how the pope had told the “young people of Ireland” that he loved them after making a show of kissing the ground at Dublin Airport, as if the flight had been “overly frightening”.
“What a load of claptrap,” the Roman Catholic-raised Muslim convert wrote in the memoir. “Nobody loved us. Not even God. Sure, even our mothers and fathers couldn’t stand us.”
She says she kept the photo with her for years.
“I never knew when or where or how I would destroy it, but destroy it I would when the right moment came,” she wrote.
Prior to her SNL appearance, O’Connor had been reading accounts in Irish newspapers about children abused by priests who got off scot-free.
The photo-ripping stunt itself was reportedly inspired by a 1978 appearance by the Boomtown Rats on Top Of The Pops in which singer Bob Geldof tore up a photo of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. The musician was reportedly commenting on how his band’s single Rat Trap kicked the duo’s Summer Nights out of the No. 1 spot after the Grease soundtrack cut had reigned there for seven weeks.
Almost 30 years on, O’Connor has no regrets over the photo-ripping stunt.
“Everyone wants a pop star, see?” she wrote. “But I am a protest singer. I just had stuff to get off my chest. I had no desire for fame.”
This isn’t the only bombshell the musician divulges in her memoir. In it, O’Connor wrote about a hellish incident in 1990, after she had a huge hit covering Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. The Purple One allegedly trapped her in his home and when she got away, chased her around a freeway while threatening to beat her.
This story originally appeared on Page Six and is republished here with permission
Originally published as Truth about star’s infamous TV moment