The Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan: A look back at the lead singer's life and tributes

The lead singer died suddenly while she was in London recording a short session

Ilana Kaplan,Roisin O'Connor
Monday 15 January 2018 19:47
Dolores O'Riordan performs with The Cranberries in Paris 1999

Dolores O’Riordan, best known as the lead singer of Irish band the Cranberries, has died at the age of 46.

O’Riordan passed away suddenly on Monday 15 January in London, where she was working on a short recording session.

Born in Limerick, O'Riordan was the youngest of seven children - all boys except for her and an older sister - and had written her own songs since she was 12-years-old.

They lived in a modest two-bedroom cottage in the countryside until she was seven-years-old, and her sister accidentally burned the house down. The close-knit community raised enough funds to purchase the family a bigger home.

O'Riordan joined The Cranberries - then called 'The Cranberry Saw Us", when she was a teenager, after spotting an advert for a female singer in a rock band.

"Dolores came in with her keyboard, and she had really short hair, and she was very small," bandmate Noel Hogan recalled to Rolling Stone in a 1995 interview.

"The songs that they had at the time were not my taste, but I saw the potential in the playing," O'Riordan added. "It was easy for me because I knew, no matter what their first impressions were, that the minute I opened my mouth they were going to be impressed."

In three weeks they had a demo, which was sent out to record labels and radio stations. They could never have predicted the response which followed - A&R reps flew in from London to track the band down and offer them deals.

The Cranberries would go onto release their 1993 debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?; an international success that was followed by the much darker album No Need To Argue, which featured their monster hit single "Zombie", inspired by a newspaper account of the children killed by a bomb planted in a Warrington bin by Irish Republicans.

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The band became embedded in 90s popular culture, with their music - and on some occasions the band themselves - appearing in shows and films including My So Called Life, Clueless and Charmed.

O'Riordan struggled with the attention this fame brought - while her bandmates were rarely recognised, once "Linger" was released O'Riordan would find herself being chased down the street by shrieking fans. The boy who inspired the song even wrote to her, years later when she was married, asking to meet. "I thought: 'It's too late. You dumped me! I didn't reply," she told the Irish Times.

At the height of The Cranberries' fame, O'Riordan would later say she was "really sick and screwed up... I felt like a puppet, an object", appearing to struggle around the release of the band's 1996 record To The Faithful Departed.

O’Riordan was involved in two alleged air rage incidents, once in 2014 and then two years later, when she was ordered to pay 6,000 euros (£5,300) to charity for headbutting a police officer. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015, which she said explained her "manic" state on the plane.

Two years previously she had revealed she was abused as a child, which led to her developing anorexia and saw her suffer a breakdown. Her family - particular her children - were described by O'Riordan as her "salvation". She split from her husband of 20 years - Duran Duran manager Don Burton - in 2014.

The band cancelled the remainder of their European tour dates in 2017 because of O’Riordan’s health issues. On the official Cranberries website, “medical reasons associated with a back problem” were cited as to why O’Riordan was unable to perform on the tour.

But at the end of 2017, O’Riordan wrote in a Facebook post that she was “feeling good” and doing her “first bit of gigging in months".

After O’Riordan’s death was announced, artists such as Liz Phair, Maggie Rogers, MUNA and Frank Turner paid tribute to the alt-rock icon on Twitter.

The band released their last album Something Else in April 2017, which featured unplugged and orchestral versions of their hit songs as well as three new tracks.

O'Riordan is survived by her ex-husband Burton, and their three children.

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