Billy Corgan opens up about friendship with Sinéad O’Connor: “Such an incredible talent”

Billy Corgan opens up about friendship with Sinéad O’Connor: “Such an incredible talent”
Music

Billy Corgan has opened up about his friendship with the late Sinéad O’Connor, calling her “such an incredible talent”.

In a new interview with the Irish Times, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman shared details about his friendship with O’Connor, who tragically died aged 56 in July last year.

Corgan revealed O’Connor lived with mutual friend and drummer Matt Walker (The Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey) in Chicago, where Walker got to know O’Connor whilst he was playing with Morrissey. From then on, O’Connor lived in Walker’s attic.

Recalling the singer as “shy”, Corgan said: “I’d met Sinéad once at a show. We talked a little bit, but I can’t say I knew her. So now she’s living at my friend’s house, where I go for Sunday dinner. Four or five, six times I was over for Sunday ham and Sinéad would come down and have dinner. And then I finally got to know her as a person. We talked about her children a lot and relationships in life and her struggles.

He went on to describe O’Connor as “very, very honest. I mean, almost to a fault.” Corgan continued: “This bare-your-soul honesty. Such a beautiful woman, such an incredible talent – just in awe of her talent. Of course my friends were calling me on the side, asking me for advice on what to do with the rock star living in their attic. They love her and they’re trying to support her through a very difficult time.”

Photo of Sinead O'CONNOR (Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)
Photo of Sinead O’CONNOR (Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)

Corgan also recalled an incident in which O’Connor went missing in May 2016. The singer  went for a bike ride at 6am and did not return until later that day, prompting the police to get involved.
“My friends are calling me, freaking out, because they don’t know what to do … I had an interesting inside perspective into this critical time in her life,” he told The Irish Times. “It was hard to watch, because, you know, her struggles were real. Sinéad was honest. And if you can take anything from her passing, it was to see this incredible outpouring of love and respect for her.
“Sometimes it’s [sad] it takes a passing for people to come into contact with how they feel,” he added. “People realise now that we lost someone who probably should have gotten more attention and support when she was here. Because her gift was so rare. And her gift had a lot to do with her pathos. Her incredible gift of singing had a direct line to her heart. That’s so rare in singers. Most singers are actors. Sinéad was not an actor.”
Corgan was one of the many who wrote tributes to the musician after the news of her death spread. Coroners confirmed O’Connor died of natural causes in January this year, after she was originally found unresponsive in her home in London.

At the time, he called her “fiercely honest and sweet and funny,” adding: “She was talented in ways I’m not sure she completely understood. But Sinead stands alone as a figure from our generation who was always true to the piercing voice within and without. And for that I will always admire and respect her. And never forget that she was once cancelled for an act of simple resistance. Her crime? Tearing up a photo.”

Garbage took to Twitter to share a photo of the singer with a caption that read: “I am heartbroken”, whilst REM frontman Michael Stipe simply put: “There are no words”.

Elsewhere, you can watch Sinéad O’Connor’s daughter perform an emotional cover of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ at New York tribute show.



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