Hazel O'Connor

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Hazel O'Connor
O'Connor in 2010 at the Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham
O'Connor in 2010 at the Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham
Background information
Born (1955-05-16) 16 May 1955 (age 66)
Coventry, England
GenresNew wave, alternative, folk, new-age
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, actress

Hazel Thereasa O'Connor (born 16 May 1955)[1] is a British 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 1980 film Breaking Glass.[2]


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 brother Neil later fronted the punk band The Flys, best known for their single "Love and a Molotov Cocktail", which she later covered.

Her film debut was in Girls Come First in 1975.[3] She became prominent as an actress and singer five years later in 1980 when playing the role of Kate in the film Breaking Glass, and performing its accompanying soundtrack.

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!) traveled 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.

— Hazel O'Connor, introduction note of the program for a gig at "At My Place" in Santa Monica, CA, 1989[4]

Her performance as Kate won her the Variety Club of Great Britain Award for 'Best Film Actor'. She was also nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music. The film's soundtrack album featured songs written and performed by O'Connor and reached number 5 in the UK Albums Chart. It had a 38-week chart run and was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry.[5] Several tracks from the album were released as singles, the most successful being "Eighth Day" and "Will You" (with a notable saxophone solo by Wesley Magoogan[6]) which both reached the UK Top 10. When O'Connor toured the UK to promote the album, the opening act were 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 released by O'Connor included Sons and Lovers (which featured the UK Top 10 hit single "D-Days"), Cover Plus, Smile, Private Wars and Five in the Morning. O'Connor also collaborated with other artists, and made appearances in the video for Mick Karn's "The Sound Of Waves" and a cameo appearance in the 1983 Eurythmics video "Who's That Girl?".

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. For a time she was interested in becoming a member of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, and starred in a 60-minute film about her relationship with the Krishnas titled Persuaders which was broadcast by the BBC in December 1985.[7][8]

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 the song "Na Na Na". 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[9] and toured the UK, the Netherlands (twice), Australia and Canada.

She signed to Invisible Hands Music in 2002; this triggered a run of new releases and of 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, 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.

Hidden Heart, produced by Martin Rushent and including duets with Maire Brennan and Rob Reynolds, was released in the UK in 2006, and her 1984 album Smile was reissued on CD in 2008.

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.[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.

O'Connor was among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[10]

Personal life[edit]

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

She had previously dated Hugh Cornwell[11] and Midge Ure.[12]

O'Connor is a vegetarian.[13]

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, whom she narrowly beat for the lead role in Breaking Glass.[14]



Studio albums[edit]

  • Breaking Glass (1980) No. 5 UK, No. 64 AUS[15]
  • Sons and Lovers (1980)
  • Cover Plus (1981) No. 32 UK
  • Smile (1984)
  • To Be Freed (1993)
  • Private Wars (1995)
  • 5 in the Morning (1997)
  • Beyond the Breaking Glass (2000)
  • Ignite (2002) (X-ert featuring Hazel O'Connor)
  • Hidden Heart (2005)
  • The Bluja Project (2010)[16] (with Clare Hirst and Sarah Fisher)
  • Breaking Glass Now (2010) (with The Subterraneans)
  • I Give You My Sunshine (2011) (with Clare Hirst and Sarah Fisher)
  • Here She Comes (2014) (with Clare Hirst and Sarah Fisher)
  • See You Again (2017) (with Cormac De Barra)
  • Hallelujah Moments (2018)

Live albums[edit]

  • Alive and Kicking in L.A. (1990) (Limited tour edition release; subsequent re-releases are unofficial/bootleg)
  • Over The Moon...Live (1993)
  • Live in Berlin (1996)
  • L.A. Confidential – Live (2000) (Bootleg recording of Alive and Kicking in L.A.)
  • Acoustically Yours (2002)
  • Fighting Back – Live in Brighton (2005) (with The Subterraneans)
  • Will You – Live In Brighton (2018)
  • Live Lounge (2020) (with Cormac De Barra and Roger Taylor)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Greatest Hits (1984)
  • See the Writing on the Wall (1993) (Germany-only release)
  • A Singular Collection – The Best of Hazel O'Connor (2003)
  • D-Days (2003)
  • Access All Areas (2016) (CD + DVD)


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
UK Indie AUS[15] IRE
1979 "Ee-I-Adio" Non-album single
1980 "Writing on the Wall" Breaking Glass
"Eighth Day" 5 78 7
"Give Me an Inch" 41
"Time" 17 Sons and Lovers
1981 "D-Days" 10 2 96 11
"Will You?" 8 7 Breaking Glass
"(Cover Plus) We're All Grown Up" 41 5 29 Cover Plus
"Hanging Around" 45 10 26
1982 "Calls the Tune" 60 Breaking Glass
"Men of Good Fortune/D-Days (New Version)" (Flexipop Release) Cover Plus
"That's Life"
1984 "Don't Touch Me" 81 23 Smile
"Just Good Friends"
"Cuts Too Deep"
1985 "Stranger in a Strange Land" (with KFT; Hungary-only release) Non-album singles
"Push and Shove" (with Chris Thompson)
1986 "Fighting Back" (with The Arts Freedom Singers; from Fighting Back)
"Today Could Be So Good" (From Prospects)
1987 "And I Dream" (with David Easter; from Howard Goodall's Girlfriends)
1993 "My Friend Jack" (Germany and Austria-only release) To Be Freed
"Time After Time" (Austria-only release)
"Tell Me Why" (Germany-only release)
1995 "All I've Been Missing" (Promo Germany-only release) Private Wars
1998 "Na, Na, Na" 5 in the Morning
2004 "One More Try" A Singular Collection – The Best of Hazel O'Connor
2005 "Perfect Days" Hidden Heart
2006 "I'll See You Again" (with Moya Brennan)
2010 "(World Stops) Spinning Without You" (with The Subterraneans) Breaking Glass Now
As featured artist
Year Title Group Chart positions
1985 "Why Don't You Answer" Eberhard Schoener featuring Hazel O'Connor
1987 "Let It Be" Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster charity ensemble 1 2
"The Wishing Well" Great Ormond Street Hospital charity ensemble 22
1990 "Rap Against Rape (What Did I Do Wrong)" Jocks & Co charity ensemble 16


Year Film Role Notes
1975 Girls Come First[3] Claire Comedy short by Joseph McGrath[21]
1977 Double Exposure[22] Shirley Thriller by William Webb[23]
1980 Breaking Glass[24] Kate Drama Musical by Brian Gibson[25] - Official Film Trailer
1982 Jangles[26] Joanne TV mini series (7 episodes) by HTV West[27]
1983 "Who's That Girl?" Herself Music video (Eurythmics)
1986 Prospects[28] Bev Reid TV series (Episode 10 - Follow the Yellow Brick Lane) by Euston Films[29] - Official Series Trailer
1986 Car Trouble[30] Maureen Comedy by David Green[31]
1986 Fighting Back[32] Viv Sharpe TV mini series (5 episodes) by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)[33]
1990 Alive and Kicking in L.A. Herself Documentary
2005 Hazel O'Connor Live in Brighton Herself Live DVD including interview
2008 Beyond The Breaking Glass Herself A limited release documenting O'Connor's life story in the style of her stage show Beyond The Breaking Glass
2019 Baghdad In My Shadow[34] Kate Thriller by Samir[35] - Official Film Trailer - Preview of Kate Forever performing Wakey Wakey


  • "Breaking Glass Barefoot - The Autobiography" (2012)


  1. ^ "Personal File". Smash Hits. 16–29 December 1981. p. 6. Retrieved 12 November 2020 – via sites.google.com.
  2. ^ "Hazel O'Connor talks Beyond Breaking Glass". www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b Girls Come First at IMDb
  4. ^ "The Rescue Rooms – Hazel O'Connor live at The Rescue Rooms". www.rescuerooms.com.
  5. ^ BPI online database Archived 17 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "The little-known musicians behind some of music's most famous moments". The Guardian. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  7. ^ Nori J. Muster, "Betrayal of the Spirit," (University of Illinois Press: 1997), 126.
  8. ^ Hare Krishna in the Movies (6 November 2017), UK Channel 4 - The Persuaders (1986) (Entire TV Documentary), retrieved 26 June 2019
  9. ^ The Scotsman Theatre review: Beyond Breaking Glass 22 August 2013
  10. ^ Rosen, Jody (25 June 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  11. ^ Cornwell, Hugh. A Multitude of Sins: The Autobiography, HarperCollins, 2004. ISBN 0007438249
  12. ^ Midge Ure's autobiography, If I Was
  13. ^ "Last Word – Hazel O'Connor" (PDF). The Vegetarian magazine. Vegetarian Society. 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  14. ^ "A life of walking on broken glass". Independent.ie. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  15. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 221. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 403. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  17. ^ "Hazel O'Connor: UK". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Hazel O'Connor: Ireland". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Hazel O'Connor: UK". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Hazel O'Connor: Ireland". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  21. ^ Joseph McGrath at IMDb
  22. ^ Double Exposure at IMDb
  23. ^ William Webb at IMDb
  24. ^ Breaking Glass at IMDb
  25. ^ Brian Gibson at IMDb
  26. ^ Jangles at IMDb
  27. ^ HTV West at IMDb
  28. ^ Prospects at IMDb
  29. ^ Euston Films at IMDb
  30. ^ Car Trouble at IMDb
  31. ^ David Green at IMDb
  32. ^ Fighting Back at IMDb
  33. ^ British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at IMDb
  34. ^ Baghdad In My Shadow at IMDb
  35. ^ Samir at IMDb

External links[edit]