The Story Behind the Other Prince Song Sinéad O’Connor Covered

After Sinéad O’Connor released her 1990 hit cover of Prince‘s “Nothing Compare 2 U,” she vowed never to record another song by Prince again — until rap rockers Fun Lovin’ Criminals approached her with a special project.

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Fun Lovin’ Criminals drummer Frank Benbini first met O’Connor at a charity event in Dublin, Ireland 2013 and later approached her about contributing to a reggae album of Prince covers with his side project Radio Riddler, also featuring FLC bassist Brian Fast Leiser.

“I discovered that she had a massive love for reggae music, which those that have followed her career will know,” said Benbini in an interview following O’Connor’s death. “We just hit it off.”

“I Would Die 4 U”

Benbini wanted O’Connor to sing Prince’s 1984 Purple Rain hit “I Would Die 4 U.” “That was the song I always thought Sinéad would sound amazing on,” said Benbini. “I spoke to her about it, and she said ‘I always vowed never to do another Prince song,’ but I said I’d send it anyway.”

Following the release and success of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which Prince originally recorded for his side project The Family in 1985, O’Connor had a frayed relationship with the artist, who reportedly frowned upon how the Irish singer was conducting herself in interviews.

[RELATED: Musicians Remember Sinead O’Connor]

“I don’t like the language you’re using in your print interviews, I don’t like you swearing,” Prince reportedly told O’Connor during an allegedly awkward visit to his home one night, which she shared in 2021 memoir Rememberings. “I don’t work for you,” O’Connor responded to Prince. “If you don’t like it, you can fuck yourself.”

Pillow Fight

Later that evening, O’Connor alleged that Prince started a pillow fight with her and put heavier items in the pillowcase with the intent to hurt her. “He comes down with two pillows and says ‘Let’s have a pillow fight,'” said O’Connor. “I think, ”Okay, it wouldn’t be every day that you’d get to have a pillow fight with Prince. What the hell, let’s try to make it a fun evening after the shitty start.’ Only on the first thump, I realize he’s got something stuffed in the pillow, designed to hurt. He ain’t playing at all. I make a run for it. I call my friend Ciara to pick me up.”

In a 2021 interview, O’Connor said she still had respect for Prince but vowed then never to record another one of his songs after that incident. “It certainly didn’t change my opinion of him as an artist, which was the only opinion I could have had,” said O’Connor. “I never knew him otherwise. Obviously, I came away not liking him very much and not particularly wanting to go around to see him again. But having said that, though, I won’t lie. I didn’t like the man.”

[RELATED: 10 Songs You Didn’t Know Prince Wrote for Other Artists]

‘Purple Reggae’

Ultimately, O’Connor ended up working with the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and recorded a version of the Prince classic, which was released on Radio Riddler’s 2014 album, Purple Reggae.

“She was super humble and really funny,” remembered Benbini. “She was nothing like she’d been perceived to be over the years. There was an air of shyness about her but also an air of, she knew what she wanted, knew who she was. She didn’t have any airs or graces, she was very much down to earth, which is quite rare in rock and roll.”

Benbini added that the reggae slant of the project may have swayed O’Connor to participate in the project. “She said she’d vowed she’d never cover another Prince song, but I think coming from the world of reggae that was really what got her to do ‘I Would Die 4 U,'” said Benbini. “It was the second time she ever did a Prince song, which I’m super proud of, and it’s such a beautiful version.”

He added, “I’ve listened to [our version of] ‘I Would Die 4 U’ since finding out the news, over and over. I’ve not listened to it for years, and it’s really beautiful.”

Photo: SGranitz/WireImage

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