Hazel O’Connor discusses her career as a vocalist, cutting David Bowie’s hair, and her most recent tour.
HAZEL O’CONNOR was sunbathing in a rubber dinghy in Beirut Bay when she heard air raid sirens and a threatening rumbling in the sky.
The 80s pop-punk icon tells me, “I looked up and saw Israeli jets.” “I started rowing very quickly to the shore, and if you’ve ever rowed a dingy extremely quickly, you know it folds up like a concertina. Everyone could only see a dingy concertinaing across the sea…”
The Lebanese civil war had broken out, and the port had become a target for the jets. Hazel dashed to the subterranean changing room as soon as she arrived at the beach. “Then the first bomb went off, and I simply raced out into the street in a bikini, which is something you wouldn’t ordinarily do in a Muslim country…”
It’s hard for Hazel, 66, the self-proclaimed “talkaholic,” to deliver a lousy interview. The former panda-eyed, pink-haired star of Top Ten hits such as Eighth Day and Will You? had enough backstories to fill a week of talk shows.
This is the same woman who cut David Bowie’s hair, was romantically linked to George Michael, and was chauffeured around Ireland by Louis Walsh, a then-obscure agent/”nutter.” The highs in Hazel’s life, however, are counterbalanced by unexpected lows, such as a terrible rape and a heartbreaking late miscarriage.
She rose to popularity as the rebellious singer Kate in the 1980 film Breaking Glass, but her chart achievements brought her no money.
She hurt her back four years ago while attempting to repair the septic tank at her French vacation property. “I was attempting to transport the large stone filter when I fell over, and that was the end of it.” Hazel speaks in a matter-of-fact tone, with a grim demeanor.
She has one older brother, Neil, who was a member of the punk band The Flys, and was born in Coventry to an Irish father and an English mother.
Her Galway-born father enlisted in the British Army at the age of 17 to fight in World War II, then relocated to Coventry, where he met her mother and worked in a car factory.
“Dad was a member of a large working-class male voice choir, and he and mum both enjoyed ballroom dancing, so he’d either do a gig or they’d dance and all return to our house. People were singing, laughing, and dancing……”
Her uncle crashed into a lamppost with her parents in the car one dreadful night. “ Dad nearly died after crashing through the windscreen. His. ”Brinkwire Summary News,” as it is known.