Hazel O’Connor

Hazel O’Connor (born May 16, 1955) is an English new wave singer and actress who starred in the 1980 rock-drama Breaking Glass. She wrote and performed the soundtrack album, followed months later by the album Sons and Lovers, recorded with her band Megahype for A&M. Two further albums appeared on Albion and RCA between 1981 and 1984, after which she concentrated on theater and television work.


Background

She was born Hazel Thereasa O’Connor on May 16, 1955, in Coventry; the daughter of an Irish autoworker and WWII veteran from Galway.

At sixteen, Hazel attended Coventry Art College and befriended future figures of the city’s ska revival. During her young adulthood, she painted in Amsterdam and did street theatre in Paris. After an abortive stint in Morocco, she joined a French dance troupe that performed in Tokyo and Beirut, then on the brink of civil war. In mid-1974, she trekked across the Sahara and landed in London, where she worked as a nude figure model and Soho club dancer.

Early musical activities included band stints in Germany and France, where she witnessed that nation’s distinct embrace of punk (“They don’t have the same sociological reasons for punk as they do in England.” Shelton, 33).

By 1978, she settled in London, where she formed Hazel & the Unknowns and sat in with her brother Neil’s band, Coventry pop-punks The Flys, which released two albums on EMI and charted with “Love and a Molotov Cocktail.” Hazel herself plastered 500 Unknowns promo posters throughout London. Her image intrigued Albion Records (999, The Edge, Ian Gomm, Sore Throat).

Before she made her vinyl debut, a casting agent at one of her concerts asked her to audition for Breaking Glass, an intended ‘punk’ version of Rock Follies. She won the part, which assumed a more earnest theme of a singer plucked from obscurity who finds herself thrust into the dark sides of the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, she recorded her first single.


Discography:

  • Breaking Glass (OST, 1980)
  • Sons and Lovers (1980)
  • Cover Plus (1981)
  • Smile (1984)

Sources:

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