Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, dies aged 46

Death of Irish singer, whose band sold more than 40m records, is being treated as ‘unexplained’

Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer with the multi-platinum band the Cranberries, has died aged 46.

The news was confirmed by her publicist in a statement, but no cause of death has yet been announced. O’Riordan, who had to cancel a tour with a reunited Cranberries in 2017 because of a back problem, had been in London for a recording session.

The statement described the death as sudden, and added: “Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

A Metropolitan police statement also confirmed the news, and that O’Riordan’s body was found at a Park Lane hotel. “At this early stage the death is being treated as unexplained,” the statement read.

A spokeswoman for the London Hilton on Park Lane said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm a guest sadly passed away at the hotel on Monday 15 January. We offer our sincere condolences to their family at this difficult time.”

The band – Noel and Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler – posted a message on Twitter:

We are devastated on the passing of our friend Dolores. She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started the Cranberries. The world has lost a true artist today.
Noel, Mike and Fergal

— The Cranberries (@The_Cranberries) January 15, 2018

Irish president Michael D Higgins said he learned of the news with “great sadness”, adding: “To all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts, her death will be a big loss.”

Musicians have started to pay tribute, including Irish songwriter Hozier, who said he was “shocked and saddened”, and that O’Riordan’s voice “threw into question what a voice could sound like in that context of rock. I’d never heard somebody use their instrument in that way.”

My first time hearing Dolores O'Riordan's voice was unforgettable. It threw into question what a voice could sound like in that context of Rock. I'd never heard somebody use their instrument in that way. Shocked and saddened to hear of her passing, thoughts are with her family.

— Hozier (@Hozier) January 15, 2018

Irish rockers Kodaline said they were “absolutely shocked” by the news, and pop singer Maggie Rogers said: “Dolores O’Riordan’s voice helped me understand my place in the world.” Jim Corr of Irish pop group the Corrs passed his “deepest sympathies” to O’Riordan’s family.

Duran Duran, whose tour manager Don Burton was married to O’Riordan for more than 20 years before their divorce in 2014, said they were “crushed” by the news. O’Riordan and Burton had three children together: Taylor Baxter, Molly Leigh and Dakota Rain.

O’Riordan, born in Limerick in 1971, joined the Cranberries – then called the Cranberry Saw Us – in 1990, and performed with them until 2003 when they took a hiatus. Driven by O’Riordan’s heartfelt vocals and her unmistakeable west Irish accent, they became hugely successful on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their hits began with the lilting, keeningly romantic Linger, which reached the Top 10 in the US and Ireland, and No 14 in the UK. It was described by O’Riordan in the Guardian last year as being inspired by “being dumped, publicly, at the disco. Everything’s so dramatic when you’re 17, so I poured it into the song.”

They built on its success, and that of their album Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, with their next album, 1994’s No Need to Argue. The lead single Zombie showed a new side to the band and to O’Riordan’s voice – a heavy, tortured, anthemic song filled with the violence of the Troubles, it was written in the wake of a 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington that killed three-year-old Jonathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry.

No Need to Argue sold 17m copies, including 7m in the US, and cemented them as one of the biggest alternative acts of the 1990s – their overall album sales topped 40m. The Cranberries released three more albums before taking a break in 2003, allowing O’Riordan to record two solo albums. The band reformed in 2009, initially just to perform live, but new material was eventually released on two subsequent albums, including 2017’s Something Else.

The band’s 2017 European tour was curtailed due to O’Riordan suffering from a back problem; their US dates were then also cancelled on the advice of O’Riordan’s doctors. In a statement after the cancellations the band said they were “very disappointed” and added: “The outpouring of support the Cranberries have received from fans and followers during the past several months is greatly appreciated.”


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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