Eighteen years ago tonight, confrontational Irish star Sinead O’Connor largely derailed what had been a promising career when she appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and, in the most infamous of her many controversial acts, tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while urging viewers to “fight the real enemy.”
Having risen to prominence on college radio in the late ’80s before scoring a worldwide smash with the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990, O’Connor never really recovered, professionally, from the incident. She was roundly slammed for the act, and was even booed off stage two weeks later at a Bob Dylan tribute concert.
O’Connor’s act is all the more timely today, given the controversy surrounding current Pope Benedict XVI’s role, prior to succeeding John Paul II, in the Vatican’s investigations into child sex-abuse allegations against Catholic priests.
Lost in the furor 18 years ago, however, was the performance that preceded the act: For her second slot on the Oct. 3, 1992, episode (her first song that night was her cover of “Success Has Made a Failure of Our Home”), O’Connor delivered a haunting a cappella rendition of Bob Marley’s “War,” which she tweaked slightly to address child abuse. You can watch that stirring performance, capped off by the infamous pope attack, below.
See Sinead O’Connor’s perform ‘War’ on ‘SNL’ after the jump…