Hazel O'Connor

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Hazel O'Connor
Hazel O Connor.jpg
Hazel O'Connor in 2010 at the Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham
Background information
Born (1955-05-16) 16 May 1955 (age 59)
Coventry, England
Genres New wave, alternative, folk, new-age
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, actress
Website www.hazeloconnorofficial.com

Hazel O'Connor (born 16 May 1955,[1]) is an English singer-songwriter and actress. 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.[2]

Career[edit]

O'Connor was born in Coventry, England. She is the daughter of a soldier from Galway who settled in England after the Second World War to work in a car plant.

Her film debut was in Girls Come First in 1975.[3] 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 accompanying soundtrack.

In 1989, in the programme introduction note for a gig at the "At My Place" venue 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 Tokyo then onto Beirut (escaping the start of the civil war by one month) travelled West Africa, crossed the Sahara, and claims she sang with a dreadful singing trio for the U.S. troops in Germany, but in fact the truth is at that time Hazel found it difficult to sing in tune, a natural talent she may have mastered now, and came home to "settle down". ('never judge a persons truth by the book, or anything else in the public domain they authorize, in many ways the are similar to a CV, it can be changed and altered so as not to fit the actual true facts)

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 group 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.

Subsequent albums for O'Connor include Sons and Lovers (which featured the hit single "D Days"), Cover Plus, Smile, Private 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.[4] 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 Fizz, Kate Garner of Haysi Fantayzee and gender-bending pop star Marilyn.

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 television 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, Manchester, Nightshoot at the Tricycle Theatre, London, Girlfriends 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 album, Five in the Morning with record producer, co-writer and guitarist, Gerard Kiely. The album included "Na Na Na", which generated a lot of airplay. A live album, Live in Berlin, followed.

The turn of the century saw O'Connor tell her life story in a touring show entitled Beyond Breaking Glass, with harpist, Cormac de Barra. The show was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1998[5] 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 compilation, A 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 Beverley 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, culminating in a show at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on 5 December 2010.

On 17 August 2014 she performed at The 80's Rewind Festival at Henley.

Personal life[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. She had previously dated Hugh Cornwell[6] and Midge Ure.[7]

Her 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 currently divides her time between living in Ireland and France. She is friends with BBC Radio London host JoAnne Good and singer Toyah Willcox, who she narrowly beat for the lead role in Breaking Glass.[8] O'Connor is a vegetarian.[9]

Discography[edit]

Albums[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)[10]
  • Breaking Glass Now (2010)
  • I Give You My Sunshine (2011)
  • Here She Comes (2014)

Singles[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 You Gotta Do/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[10]

Also featured on:

Filmography[edit]

  • Girls Come First (1975)
  • 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)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leggett, Steve. Biography of Hazel O'Connor at AllMusic. Retrieved September 2009.
  2. ^ Rudden, Liam "Hazel O’Connor talks Beyond Breaking Glass" Edinburgh News, August 20, 2013.
  3. ^ Girls Come First at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ D Days Songfacts
  5. ^ The Scotsman Theatre review: Beyond Breaking Glass 22 August 2013
  6. ^ Hugh Cornwell's autobiography A Mutitude of Sins
  7. ^ Midge Ure's autobiography, If I Was
  8. ^ "A life of walking on broken glass". Independent.ie. 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  9. ^ "Last Word - Hazel O'Connor" (PDF). The Vegetarian magazine. Vegetarian Society. 2003. Retrieved 18 November 2007. 
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 403. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]