Hazel O'Connor (born 16 May 1955) 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 film Breaking Glass.
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. 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
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. 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) 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.
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 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.
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. 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 25 June 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Hazel O'Connor among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
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.
O'Connor is a vegetarian.
Her brother Neil fronted the punk band The Flys, best known for their single "Love and a Molotov Cocktail", which she later covered.
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.
- 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)
- Breaking Glass Now (2010)
- I Give You My Sunshine (2011)
- Here She Comes (2014)
- Access All Areas (2016)
- See You Again (2017)
- Hallelujah Moments (2018)
- "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)
- "Waiting/Sons And Lovers" (1980) (Australia Only)
- "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/D-Days (New Version)" (1982) (Flexipop Release)
- "That's Life" (1982)
- "Don't Touch Me" (1984) No. 81 UK
- "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)
- "All I've Been Missing" (1995)
- "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
Also featured on:
- "Let It Be" (Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster charity ensemble) (No. 1 UK) (1987)
- "The Wishing Well" (Great Ormond Street Hospital charity ensemble) (No. 22 UK) (1987)
- "Rap Against Rape (What Did I Do Wrong)" ("Jocks & Co" charity single) (No. 16 IE) (1990)
|1975||Girls Come First||Claire||Short film (credited as Hazel Glyn)|
|1977||Double Exposure||Shirley||Minor role (an assistant who acts as an erotic distraction to villains)|
|1980||Breaking Glass||Kate||Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Film Music|
|1982||Jangles||Joanne||TV series (7 episodes)|
|1983||"Who's That Girl?"||—||Music video (Eurythmics)|
|1986||Prospects||Bev Reid||TV series (one episode)|
|1986||Fighting Back||Viv Sharpe||Miniseries (5 episodes)|
|1990||Alive and Kicking in L.A.||—||Documentary|
|2005||Hazel O'Connor Live in Brighton||—||Live DVD including interview|
|2008||Beyond The Breaking Glass||—||A limited release documenting O'Connor's life story in the style of her stage show Beyond The Breaking Glass|