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Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, dies

Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, dies

Death being treated as 'unexplained'
Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, dies
Singer Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries during a performance in Prague, Czech Republic, on Nov. 30, 2012.
Photographer: Shutterstock

Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Irish rock band The Cranberries, died Monday in London. She was 46.

Her death was announced by her publicist, who did not specify the cause.

“Irish and international singer Dolores O’Riordan has died suddenly in London today,” Lindsey Holmes, the publicist, said in an emailed statement, adding that O’Riordan had been in London for a recording session.

The statement said that family members are “devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said Monday that police were called to a Park Lane hotel in Westminster at about 9:05 a.m., and that O’Riordan was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death is being treated as “unexplained,” the spokeswoman said.

O’Riordan wrote lyrics and often music for The Cranberries’ 1990s hits, including “Linger” (which remained on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 24 weeks) and “Dreams,” which proclaimed both vulnerability and steadfastness. She was the sole writer of the noisier, angrier “Zombie,” a response to an Irish Republican Army terrorist bombing in 1993.

In the band, her voice — high and breathy, but far more determined than fragile — rode atop a rich wash of electric guitars. Her unmistakable Irish accent and the Celtic inflections of her melodies gave her singing a plaintive individuality and a flinty core.

The Cranberries were formed in 1989 as The Cranberry Saw Us and renamed The Cranberries after O’Riordan took over as lead singer in 1990. Along with the brothers Noel Hogan on guitar and Mike Hogan on bass, the band includes drummer Fergal Lawler. The group arrived during the early 1990s ascendance of alternative rock: tuneful, punk-derived, guitar-driven songs that often made their way from college-radio playlists to commercial radio.

Four of the group’s albums reached the Billboard Top 20.

Female rock singers such as Sinead O’Connor and Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays had preceded The Cranberries on the pop charts, and the band also drew deeply on the musical example of The Smiths, the 1980s band that propelled warm, rounded guitars and confessional lyrics with post-punk drumming. The Cranberries’s 1993 debut album, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We,” which included the career-making hits “Linger” and “Dreams,” and the 1994 album “No Need to Argue,” with “Zombie,” were both produced by The Smiths’ producer, Stephen Street.

After “Zombie,” The Cranberries’ lost much of their pop audience as their late-1990s albums grew harsher and more concerned with sociopolitical messages than with love songs. The Cranberries disbanded in 2003. In 2007, O’Riordan released her first solo album, “Are You Listening?”

In an interview published in The Guardian last year, O’Riordan described how the band wrote “Linger,” its first song together. “I wrote about being rejected,” she said. “I never imagined that that it would become a big song.”

In 1996, Neil Strauss, a pop music critic for The New York Times, described O’Riordan as a performer who can “sing almost anything and make it seem musical.”

O’Riordan’s death was also announced on the group’s Twitter account, where fans shared messages of mourning and of the impact that the group’s music had on their lives:

“She was part of my DNA, the soundtrack to my life,” wrote one, Michael Traboulsi.

O’Riordan was born Sept. 6, 1971, and grew up in the Ballybricken area of County Limerick, Ireland. In 1994, she married Don Burton, a former tour manager for Duran Duran; the couple divorced in 2014. She is survived by her three children, Taylor, Molly and Dakota, and her mother, Eileen O’Riordan.

Six years after The Cranberries’ split, the group reunited and began touring again. But last year, the band canceled dates on its European and North American tours due to O’Riordan’s ongoing back problems.

“There have been some comments suggesting that Dolores could perform if she sat while singing. Unfortunately it is not as simple as that,” a statement on the group’s Facebook page said then.

The Cranberries released the acoustic album “Something Else” in 2017 and had plans to perform shows in Europe and North America. But the tours were cut short or canceled because the band said that singing put pressure on the parts of O’Riordan’s spine that were giving her so much pain.

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