Remembering Dolores O’Riordan: Lead Singer of Irish Rock Band Dead at 46

by Kerry Torpey on January 25, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

Dolores O’Riorden preorming with the Cranberries in 2000.
Photo courtesy of

by Joe Clancy ’18

A&E Staff

“This was just meant to be, this is coming back to me, cause pure love, cause this is pure love.” On Jan. 15, the music world lost Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of Irish rock band and international sensation, The Cranberries. O’Riordan was known for her amazing vocal range and abilities that made her one of the most recognizable voices in music.

Some described her voice as definitive yet relatable. O’Riordan reached international fame as she and the albums she collaborated on saw worldwide success both critically and commercially. She was held in high regard in her native Ireland as well as across the globe. In fact, one of the first public mourners was President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, and O’Riordan also received condolences from rock legends, like The Kinks guitarist, Dave Davies.

Born in 1971, O’Riordan was the youngest of nine children, hailing from a large Irish Catholic family in Limerick. From a young age, O’Riordan showed interest and passion in music, often describing singing as the true love of her life. Her big break came in 1990 when the young talent joined the band that she will always be associated with, The Cranberries.

The Cranberries were a band that never were, nor ever wanted to be, defined by a single music genre. The group formed in 1989 and incorporated various sounds like Irish folk, pop punk, and even hit pop rock music into their work. In 1990 the band decided to separate from their lead singer, Niall Quinn, and had open auditions for the position.

When O’Riordan decided to audition, she was able to blow the band mates and judges away, as there was no question that she deserved the spot with her powerful vocals. O’Riordan was ultimately awarded the title of lead singer and the rest was history.

The band went on to release a number of hit albums including Everybody Else is Doing It so Why Can’t We (1993) and To the Faithful Departed (1996), both of which were massive commercial successes, with the latter album reaching number two on the Billboard Top 200. The Cranberries even went on to receive the European Border Breakers Award as a top 10 breakout band, which is a massive milestone for any European band.

The Cranberries split up in 2003, citing creative differences and artistic ambitions. Following the band’s split, O’Riordan went on to launch her own successful solo career. Her first single following the breakup was featured on an album that included legendary artists such as Eric Clapton and Sheryl Crow.

O’Riordan went on to release her first full solo album Are You Listening? (2007)which has sold over 350,000 copies worldwide. She continued to release and perform concerts. The singer even had the privilege of performing in front of world leaders like Pope Francis and Princess Diana. Princess Diana said that O’Riordan’s singing was so beautiful it actually brought her to tears. O’Riordan also partnered with former The Smiths band member Andy Rourke in the 2010s to launch the band D.A.R.K.

Although her family is keeping details of her death private, fans around the world mourned alongside them at the late singer’s funeral on Jan. 22. Thousands of tributes from fans and celebrities prove the power and legendary effect O’Riordan had on the music industry.