Sinead O’Connor‘s ex-husband has told how he was the first to get the call after she was found dead at her London flat.
John Reynolds, who remained a lifelong friend and collaborator after the couple divorced, described the moment he learned the singer was dead.
He said: “It was very difficult because I had to call her dad and her children. That was really tough.
“It was sort of down to me to arrange everything for the funeral.
“But I was glad, actually, because I think I know her better than anybody, so I’d know what she’d want.
“That’s why we had that big music thing going on in Bray. I thought she’d like that.”
The drummer and producer shares his memories of the music icon in a special edition of Hot Press paying tribute to the singer and activist.
Sinead was found dead at her Lambeth apartment in Brixton aged 56 on July 26. The coroner has not yet released a cause of death.
John, who is father to Sinead’s eldest child, Jake, said he feared for her after she lost her son Shane, 17, to suicide.
He said: “Sinead had talked to me two or three times a day, so you get used to somebody’s level of existence – which for her, for the last couple of years, has been very limited.
“She’s had a lot of mental health issues and she’d lost Shane, so it was really difficult to get through these last few years.
“But I thought the film [Nothing Compares] was a very positive thing for her. She loved Kathryn [Ferguson, the director], and she loved the fact it was being made.
“I told her ‘It will all be positive. It’s all going to be supportive.’ Because I just felt like she was going under.”
John described the backlash to Sinead ripping up a picture of the Pope on live television as “very scary”.
He added: “We had a child, and I knew America was crazy, so I thought anything could happen. And there’s so many guns.
“I thought someone was going to come along and shoot her at a show – or anywhere – because she was so recognisable.
“Looking back now, I can see that it took a lot of courage to do that, to prophesise that, 20 years before it really comes out.”
And he said in spite of all the ups and downs and the setback her career suffered as a result, Sinead always kept her sense of fun.
John said: “I think it’s important to remember – amid all the seriousness, the confrontations, and the political stances she took – she was also a really, really funny person who had a great sense of humour.
“She was great fun to just hang out, and talk with. She was the funniest person I know, because she really didn’t care.
“There was nobody really like her. She was just such a unique force.”
John also told how she had been working on the idea of a new album of chants but never got to make it.
He revealed: “She’d always loved studying different religions.
“Lately, in the last couple of months, she’d been said she’d been sending me a lot of Hindu and Sufi poetry, music and chants.
“I’ve got hundreds on my phone from her. She wanted to do this album of chants.
“Had she lived longer, it looked like the next jump would have been to Hinduism – it was going that way.”