Hazel O'Connor
Background information
Born 16 May 1955, Coventry, England
Genre New Wave, alternative, folk, new age
Occupation Singer-songwriter, actress
Associated acts Cormac de Barra

Hazel O'Connor (born 16 May 1955, Coventry, England) is an English singer-songwriter and actress, who has performed on stage with Simon Le Bon and toured with Duran Duran.

Career Edit

Beginnings Edit

O'Connor originally became prominent as an actress in 1980 when playing the role of Kate in the critically acclaimed film Breaking Glass, and its accompanying soundtrack.

Breaking Glass was not her film debut. That was Girls Come First (1975), a soft porn film in which she appeared full frontally nude and simulated sex in a bathtub with John Hamill.

In the introduction note of the programme for a gig at "At My Place" in Santa Monica, Los Angeles in 1989, 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, 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".

Duran Duran Edit

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 during The Megahype Tour and gave them the exposure they needed to secure a recording contract (with EMI). On the final show of the tour Simon Le Bon joined O'Connor on stage at the Dominion Theatre in London and performed backing vocals on "Suffragette City", later released on "Time".

1981-present Edit

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. Legal battles plagued O'Connor from the early 1980s - in her own words "I became famous, then had a load of court battles to fight against my first record company, I was ripped off, torn up and spat out by the machinery of 'Showbiz'" However, despite the hassle, O'Connor continued to record and to play live, touring the UK, Ireland, Europe and the U.S. with her band Megahype, and continuing her career as an actor.

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 includes 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 in the UK, especially in Scotland . A live album, Live 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 harpist, Cormac 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 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 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 Moya 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. She continues 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'.

O'Connor currently divides her time between living in Ireland and France.

Discography Edit

Albums Edit

  • Breaking Glass (1980) #5 UK
  • Sons And Lovers (1980)
  • Cover Plus (1981) #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)

Singles Edit

  • "Ee-I-Adio" (1979)
  • "Writing On The Wall" (1980)
  • "Eighth Day" (1980) #5 UK
  • "Give Me an Inch" (1980) #41 UK
  • "Time" (1980)
  • "D-Days" (1981) #10 UK
  • "Will You" (1981) #8 UK
  • "Zoo" (1981) (Germany Only)
  • "Do What Do You/Waiting" (1981) (Not UK)
  • "(Cover Plus) We're All Grown Up" (1981) #41 UK
  • "Hanging Around" (1981) #45 UK
  • "Calls the Tune" (1982) #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" (with Chris Thompson) (1985)
  • "Fighting Back" (1986)
  • "Today Could Be So Good" (1986)
  • "We Tried Boy (Didn't We?)" (1986)
  • "And I Dream" (with David Easter) (1987)
  • "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)
  • Smile 2008 (2008)