It's been a long strange trip for Sinéad O'Connor, the world's first pop-singing sometime-lesbian and priest. Now, she wants off the musical merry-go-round.
O'Connor announced she's done with the music biz and all its trappings on Thursday on the Website www.sinead-oconnor.com. "As of July 2003, I shall be retiring from the music business in order to pursue a different career," wrote the controversial singer, who didn't share her new career plans.
The 36-year-old, who's threatened to retire from the public eye since 1992 (à la Babs and Cher's frequent farewell performances), also says she wants to be left alone during her golden years.
"I would request that as of July, since I seek no longer to be a "famous" person, and instead I wish to live a "normal" life, could people please afford me my privacy," she writes on the site.
She also advises fans that the best way to show their love for a celebrity if they spot them on the street is to completely ignore them.
"Leave them alone and don't stare at them! Or bang on restaurant windows when they're in there. Or make them get their picture taken, or write their names on bits of paper. That's pieces of them," she writes.
Some reports suggest O'Connor's current retirement claim stems from her health battles with chronic fatigue syndrome--she recently canceled several performances with U.K. rockers Massive Attack.
But before her self-proclaimed exile, O'Connor still has a couple of projects she'd like to promote.
"The last recordings I will make will be a track for Dolly Parton's upcoming tribute album and a track for (Irish accordionist) Sharon Shannon's forthcoming album," she says.
She also plans to cap her two-decade career with a concert and documentary DVD called Goodnight. Thank you. You've Been a Lovely Audience, slated for a July release, featuring her older songs and tracks from last year's album Sean Nos Nua, a collection of traditional Irish folk songs.
O'Connor's best-selling album remains 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, which spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. The album and its hit single "Nothing Compares 2 U" turned O'Connor into an international star, a role she handled with less than stellar grace.
Her reluctant-rock star antics included ripping up a photo of the Pope on national television, refusing to have the National Anthem played before a New Jersey concert, becoming a priest in a renegade Catholic sect and declaring herself a lesbian--she later wed British journo Nick Sommerlad in a secret 2001 ceremony in Ireland. However, Irish newspapers recently reported that the marriage, O'Connor's second, is on the rocks.