The news of the death of Dolores O’Riordan, singer and songwriter for The Cranberries, is both deeply saddening and quite shocking, given that O’Riordan was just 46 years old. The band has released a statement saying:
The lead singer with the Irish band The Cranberries, was in London for a short recording session. No further details are available at this time. Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.
As the statement indicates, O’Riordan was keeping busy, and a quick search of YouTube turns up a number of performances, both solo and with the band, over the past couple of years. Here is an April 2017 performance of “Linger,” one of the singles off of the band’s 1993 hit album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?:
I remember quite vividly the first time I heard that incredible album: coming up the stairs of the house I shared with five other guys, hearing this amazing music coming out of my friend David’s room. Turns out he had just bought the CD, and we both were immediately taken with the mesmerizing combination of dreamy guitar, hook-heavy songs, and O’Riordan’s stunning voice, which is one of the most unmistakable, inimitable pop/rock instruments of the past 25 years. The only band that came close, for me, to the same sort of dynamic, distinctive, loud-soft, angst-filled-but-beautiful, spine-tingling pop/rock was JJ72, another Irish group that had some success in the Nineties. The Cranberries had tremendous success, selling some 40 million albums, but O’Riordan apparently had struggles in recent years with depression (she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder), back problems, and some erratic behavior, coming on the heels of a divorce from Don Burton, her husband of twenty years, in 2014.
O’Riordan’s influence can certainly be seen and heard in much music over the past couple of decades, and occasionally turns up in rather surprising places. I’ve been listening to Free of Form, a wonderful new album by neo-jazz/r&b singer Sarah Elizabeth Charles, featuring trumpeter Christian Scott, which contains a compelling version of “Zombie,” one of The Cranberries’ biggest hits:
O’Riordan was raised Catholic, and indicated in this undated article that she didn’t attend Church anymore. But she was open about drawing inspiration from the traditional music of the Church:
“I was never like: ‘Hello, I’m a catholic and I’m into Jesus Christ and John and all the boys,’ you know. When I was a teenager I was, like, falling asleep in church, but when it came to the hymns, then I was like yes!, because I loved the hymns, the Gregorian hymns”, “Oh, great tunes. That’s definitely where rock’n’roll came from!”
She also expressed great admiration for the late Pope John Paul II; in fact, she performed at the Vatican at the invitation of each of the last three popes. My God grant her eternal rest. She died far too young.