‘The Cranberries’ Singer, Dolores O’Riordan, Dies at 46

There’s a cloud looming over my head today. Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Irish alternative rock band The Cranberries has died today and there is no doubt that everyone is feeling the daffodil lament. I needed some time to process this and now—as I drink my morning coffee with Ode to My Family forming tears in my eyes, I can begin to realize that it’s not just my imagination. So in the best way I can, I will hopefully form the words to share what a sad day this truly is in the world of music.

Dolores died today in London, where she was recording new music, at the age of 46. Authorities were called to the Park Lane hotel in Westminster at 9:05 a.m. on January 15th where she was pronounced dead at the scene. The publicist for the band released a statement of the songbird’s sudden death:

It was not described how Dolores died, but she had be dealing with back problems that had forced the band to cancel their almost sold out Euro and US tour. I had tickets to see this show where the band was touring with Irish Chamber Orchestra to play their latest acoustic album Something Else. Dolores had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015 and was dealing with this with the help of medication.

Born, Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan, the singer was from Limerick and became part of the band in 1989 when she auditioned for brothers Noel and Mike Hogan who were looking for a lead for their band The Cranberry Saw Us. Dolores was famous for her unique sound and yodeling that fused the band’s alternative rock sound with traditional Irish sounds.

The band had incredible success in the early 90s with their first albums Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993) and No Need to Argue (1994), but was followed up by albums To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) before splitting in 2003. She was married to Don Burton, former tour manager for Duran Duran, but divorced after a 20-year marriage. The couple had three children.

During her time away from The Cranberries, Dolores had a solo career which included her album Are You Listening? (2007) and No Baggage (2009). The Cranberries reunited with a studio album Roses (2012) and a world tour–returning to stages to deliver the music that made everyone fall in love with band.

There has already been much written about the loss of Dolores O’Riordan and many huge names have commented on her death so I don’t think it’s necessary to include all of that in here. Instead, I think it is important to acknowledge the personal experience many had with music of The Cranberries and Dolores’ voice.

Since their early days, The Cranberries represented the rebel outcast who was seeking an emotional release from the world’s hate and troubles. Songs like No Need to Argue, Zombie, War Child, Bosnia, Free to Decide, Salvation–among others–conquered political and social struggles felt by war and labels that many marginalized groups identified with.

I began listening to The Cranberries when I was in 4th grade. It was music that was introduced to me by my older sister, who at the time would drive me around town with music blaring as I wore my tiny Doc Martens. Since their beginning, The Cranberries symbolized self-affirmation. The music has always been elegant, raw, and it meant ‘giving zero fucks’ before that was even a thing.

As I grew up, The Cranberries became a coping mechanism that broke me down, healed me, and built me back up during some of the most difficult times in my life. As a queer man, their music was solace and Dolores O’Riordan the manifestation of the years of confusion, bullying, and search to be comfortable in my own skin. It was this music that guided me through my coming out and taught me how to love, how to lose and how to forgive. And now, in my adult life, her music has set a foundation for love, since my partner and I selected Dreams as one of our wedding songs.

When I was old enough to finally be able to attend their concert, I had the opportunity to experience a concert during Dolores’ solo career. After three songs at the House of Blues on Sunset, her drummer dropped to the ground in a seizure and the show ended abruptly. I was devastated that I would not be able to enjoy more of her music live.

A couple of years later in 2009, when The Cranberries reunited, I scored tickets to their show and I attended with my sister and my partner. This show was something I had waited for my entire life–the chance to hear the music that had fed my soul–live.

As a gesture of gratitude, I brought a yellow rose and wrote a note that I hoped I would be able to deliver to the hands of Dolores. In it, I thanked her for her words and her voice and for being the soundtrack to my youth. I thanked her for being a storyteller for everyone who felt they were not represented and for always continuing to do what they were doing with this fact in mind. I was so far back at the concert and didn’t know if the rose would get to her, but at a moment of courage, I sent the rose and the note up, asking the person in front of me to send it forward. A few minutes in, I lost track of the rose and thought it had been lost in the sea of fans, but during the song Wanted, I saw that she reached down and grabbed my rose and attached note from someone in the front row. At that moment, I knew that after all the years I had listened to the music by The Cranberries I had reached an ultimate level of connection with Dolores.

As we continue to learn more about Dolores’ untimely death, there is nothing more that can be said for the singer who breathed life into the many people who were searching to fit in and learning how to feel.

I leave you with this, one of The Cranberries’ most iconic songs that has now immortalized Dolores as one of the greatest singers who gave the world a gift and left us all yearning for more.

Thank you for word, Dolores.


If you, if you could return

Don't let it burn

Don't let it fade

I'm sure I'm not being rude

But it's just your attitude

It's tearing me apart

It's ruining every day

For me

I swore I would be true

And fellow, so did you

So why were you holding her hand?

Is that the way we stand?

Were you lying all the time?

Was it just a game to you?

But I'm in so deep

You know I'm such a fool for you

You've got me wrapped around your finger

Do you have to let it linger?

Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

Oh, I thought the world of you

I thought nothing could go wrong

But I was wrong, I was wrong

If you, if you could get by

Trying not to lie

Things wouldn't be so confused

And I wouldn't feel so used

But you always really knew

I just want to be with you

And I'm in so deep

You know I'm such a fool for you

You've got me wrapped around your finger

Do have to let it linger?

Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

And I'm in so deep

You know I'm such a fool for you

You've got me wrapped around your finger

Do have to let it linger?

Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

You know I'm such a fool for you

You've got me wrapped around your finger

Do have to let it linger?

Do you have to, do you have to, do have to let it linger?

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