Hazel O'Connor (born 16 May 1955,[1]) is an English singer-songwriter and actress. She is the daughter of a soldier from Galway who settled in England after World War II to work in a car plant. She became famous in the early 1980s with hit singles "Eighth Day", "D-Days" and "Will You", as well as starring in the film Breaking Glass.

Career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

O'Connor was born in CoventryEngland, and made her film debut in Girls Come First, in 1975.[2]

She became prominent as an actress five years later in 1980 when playing the role of Kate in the critically acclaimed film Breaking Glass, and its accompanyingsoundtrack.

In 1989, in the programme introduction note for a gig at the Santa Monica venue "At My Place", in Los Angeles, she wrote:

I ran away from my home in Coventry when I was 16... made and sold clothes in Amsterdam, picked grapes in France, joined a dance troupe that went to Tokyothen onto Beirut (escaping the start of the civil war by one month) travelled West Africa, crossed the Sahara, sang with a dreadful singing trio for the U.S. troops in Germany and came home to "settle down". Through all this experience of life and the world I realized that singing always cheered me up. I decided to be a singer. Through strange turns of fate I ended up in a film called Breaking Glass. I also ended up writing all the songs for the movie.

Her performance as Kate won her the Variety Club of Great Britain Award for 'Best Film Actor' and BAFTA nominations for 'Best Newcomer' and 'Best Film Score.' The album of the same name went double platinum, reaching number 5 in the UK Albums Chart with a 28 week stay and produced several hit singles, the most successful being the haunting "Will You", and "Eighth Day". When O'Connor toured the UK in support of Breaking Glass the album, she selected as her opening act a then-unknown local group from Birmingham called Duran Duran. It was the band's first opportunity to play to large audiences throughout the UK and gave them the exposure they needed to secure a recording contract (with EMI).

Subsequent albums for O'Connor include Sons and Lovers (which featured the hit single "D Days"), Cover PlusSmilePrivate Wars and Five in the Morning. "D Days" was inspired by a trip to a night club in London's West End where O'Connor met a lot of bizarre looking people.[3] O'Connor made a cameo appearance in the 1983 Eurythmics video, "Who's That Girl?", alongside other stars of the time: Bananarama,Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston of Bucks FizzKate Garner of Haysi Fantayzee and gender-bending pop star Marilyn.

During the 1980s she was popular in Hungary and performed a live concert in Budapest in 1985. Some members of the crowd had to be restrained as she politely told them that she had other material apart from the songs from Breaking Glass.[citation needed]

O'Connor donated her songwriting talents to Greenpeace First International Record Project released worldwide in 1985 as a response to the French bombing and subsequent sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Her duet song "Push and Shove" with Chris Thompson leads off the second act of the album and accompanying video.

She has made numerous TV appearances, starring in Jangles on British television and in 1986 playing the lead role of Vivienne in Fighting Back as well as singing the theme tune. She also played a singer in an episode of Prospects on Channel 4 in 1986 resulting in the release of two spin off singles alongside former Breaking Glass actor Gary Olsen.

Her theatre work included One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at the Royal Exchange, ManchesterNightshoot at the Tricycle Theatre, LondonGirlfriends at the Playhouse, London, Swing Out Sister, her own production, at the Riverside Studio, London, The Raven Beckons at the Riverbank Theatre, Dublin and The Cuchulain Cycle at the Riverside Studio, London.

In 1997 she recorded the studio albumFive in the Morning with record producer, co-writer and guitarist, Gerard Kiely. The album included "Na Na Na", which generated a lot of airplay in the UK, especially inScotland.[citation needed] A live albumLive in Berlin, followed.

The turn of the century saw O'Connor tell her life story in an autobiographical touring show entitled Beyond Breaking Glass, with harpistCormac De Barra. The show was a hit at the Edinburgh fringe festival and toured the UK, the Netherlands (twice), Australia and Canada.

In 2002 she signed to Invisible Hands Music, which triggered a run of new releases and deluxe re-issues of her 1990s work. A commercially available reincarnation of the previously mail-order Beyond the Breaking Glass was followed by a previously unreleased acoustic concert, Acoustically Yours. In 2003 Five In The Morning and Live In Berlin were repackaged with new photos and liner notes.

In 2003 Invisible Hands Music released O'Connor's first-ever official best of compilationA Singular Collection, which brought together her early hits from the Albion days, mid career work at RCA, and the best of the latter, DIY era. To add something new to the best of compilation, O'Connor recorded a cover of her friend George Michael's hit, "One More Try", with a band that included drummer Carlos Hercules, who at the time was playing for Annie Lennox and Beverly Knight. Hercules joined George Michael's band in 2006. The track was released as a single, and generated extensive airplay and renewed interest in O'Connor - the following year saw her perform at the Glastonbury Festival.

June 2005 saw the UK release of Hidden Heart, produced by Martin Rushent and including duets with Maire Brennan and Rob Reynolds; with 2008 seeing the CD re-issue of her 1984 album, Smile.

In 2008 O'Connor performed for the second time at the Glastonbury Festival playing an acoustic set on the Avalon stage.

In 2009 O'Connor performed as part of the '1980s Here and Now' tour at many venues including Wembley Arena, for which she received positive reviews.[citation needed] She continued to tour extensively with her own solo projects, 'Beyond the Breaking Glass' and 'Bluja Project'. In 2009 she was awarded her own star on Coventry's 'Walk of Fame'.

In September 2010, O'Connor performed in France with The Bluja Project featuring Clare Hirst and Sarah Fisher, and in Ireland in October with Cormac De Barra. She then performed 'Breaking Glass Live' throughout England, cluminating in a show at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on 5 December 2010.

Personal life[edit source | editbeta]Edit

O'Connor married artist Kurt Bippert in 1987. The ceremony took place on Venice Beach, California, and was covered by Hello! magazine. The actor David Rappaport was Best man, and Dave Wakeling from The Beat gave O'Connor away. They divorced in 2000.

  • O'Connor used to date Hugh Cornwell[4] and Midge Ure.[5]
  • O'Connor's brother Neil fronted the punk band The Flys, best known for their single "Love and a Molotov Cocktail" - later covered by Hazel O'Connor.
  • O'Connor is a vegetarian.[6]

O'Connor currently divides her time between living in Ireland and France. She is friends with BBC Radio London host Joanne Good and singer Toyah Wilcox, who she narrowly beat for the lead role in Breaking Glass.[7]

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Breaking Glass (1980) No. 5 UK
  • Sons And Lovers (1980)
  • Cover Plus (1981) No. 32 UK
  • Smile (1984)
  • Greatest Hits (1984)
  • Alive And Kicking In L.A. (1990)
  • To Be Freed (1993)
  • Over The Moon...Live (1993)
  • See The Writing On The Wall (1993)
  • Private Wars (1995)
  • Live In Berlin (1997)
  • 5 In The Morning (1998)
  • Beyond the Breaking Glass (2000)
  • L.A. Confidential - Live (2000)
  • Acoustically Yours (2002)
  • Ignite (2002)
  • A Singular Collection - The Best Of Hazel O'Connor (2003)
  • D-Days (2003)
  • Hidden Heart (2005)
  • Fighting Back - Live in Brighton (2005)
  • Smile 2008 (2008)
  • The Bluja Project (2010)[8]
  • Breaking Glass Now (2010)
  • I Give You My Sunshine (2011)

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "Ee-I-Adio" (1979)
  • "Writing On The Wall" (1980)
  • "Eighth Day" (1980) No. 5 UK
  • "Give Me an Inch" (1980) No. 41 UK
  • "Time" (1980)
  • "D-Days" (1981) No. 10 UK
  • "Will You" (1981) No. 8 UK
  • "Zoo" (1981) (Germany Only)
  • "Do What Do You/Waiting" (1981) (Not UK)
  • "(Cover Plus) We're All Grown Up" (1981) No. 41 UK
  • "Hanging Around" (1981) No. 45 UK
  • "Calls the Tune" (1982) No. 60 UK
  • "Men of Good Fortune" (1982) (Not UK)
  • "That's Life" (1982)
  • "Don't Touch Me" (1984)
  • "Just Good Friends" (1984)
  • "Tell Me a Story Now/The Man I Love" (1984)
  • "Cuts Too Deep" (1984)
  • "Stranger in a Strange Land" (1985)
  • "Why Don't You Answer" (1985)
  • "Push and Shove" (1985) with Chris Thompson
  • "Fighting Back" (1986)
  • "Today Could Be So Good" (1986)
  • "We Tried Boy (Didn't We?)" (1986)
  • "And I Dream" (1987) with David Easter)
  • "Heat of the Night" (1990)
  • "My Friend Jack" (1993)
  • "Tell Me Why" (1993)
  • "Na, Na, Na" (1998)
  • "One More Try" (2004)
  • "I'll See You Again" / "Hidden" (2005) with Moya Brennan)
  • "(World Stops) Spinning Without You" (2010) with The Subterraneans[8]

Also featured on:

Filmography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Breaking Glass (1980)
  • Jangles - O'Connor starred in two episodes, ('Getting It Together' and 'Have A Drink On Me'), of this TV series (1982)
  • Car Trouble (1985)
  • Fighting Back (1986 TV Series)
  • Alive and Kicking in L.A. (1989–1990) Rockumentory
  • Hazel O'Connor Live in Brighton (2005 live DVD including interview)
  • Beyond The Breaking Glass (A limited release documenting O'Connor's life story in the style of her stage show Beyond The Breaking Glass) (circa 2008)
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