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Seminal 1990s Irish rock group The Cranberries’ vocalist Dolores O’Riordan has passed away at the age of 46, a publicist confirmed to BBC.
A statement which relayed the news of O’Riordan’s death read: “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.”
O’Riordan, the voice behind some of the biggest rock hits of the 1990s and late 2000s such as Zombie and Linger, had earlier cited health issues when The Cranberries cancelled their ongoing European tour in May last year, citing back problems. They also ended up calling off their Fall 2017 North America tour, with a statement that said, “Dolores and the band are very disappointed that it has come to this and send their sincere apologies to all fans and ticket holders, and hope to see you all again in the future when Dolores is well again.”
From the city of Limerick, Ireland, The Cranberries scaled the heights of worldwide fame as soon as they started off, with their 1993 debut album Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? topping the charts in Ireland, UK and being certified platinum in the US. They continued chart domination on the regular with subsequent releases, and more immediately with their second album No Need to Argue. By the time the video for Zombie made its way to nearly every TV set in the world – thanks to MTV – O’Riordan became the voice of angst for many women and men, even though she was singing about Irish terrorist group IRA and their victims.
The refrain of “What’s in your head?” from a smothered-in-gold O’Riordan remains one of The Cranberries’ claim to fame, even if they did carry on consistently until they called for a hiatus in 2003. Closer home, her voice and the song in particular became a staple cover for many female-fronted rock bands trying their luck in college competitions.
A true portrait of struggle and anxiety in her songs, O’Riordan told Songwriter magazine in an interview last year, “Yeah, I’ve always struggled with mood-swings. I have bipolar disorder and so I think I go from being extremely high to being really low – one extreme to the next. But I honestly think a lot of writers have trouble that way, especially as life progresses. I find life really difficult, so I have to keep busy all the time, otherwise I go crazy – I suppose that’s why writing is great.”
While the singer was a guest on other musicians’ projects, she released her debut single Ordinary Day in 2007 to much success. She followed up with her second album No Baggage in 2009, which became the same year that The Cranberries reunited to support O’Riordan’s solo effort on the road. They eventually released the comeback album Roses in 2012, which was a throwback to their signature sound, O’Riordan being a voice of calm, pain and wisdom on songs such as Schizophrenic Playboy and the title track.
The Cranberries seemed to have stuck to mining their legacy when they released Something Else last year, which featured reworked versions of their existing material as well as three new songs. These songs remain part of O’Riordan’s unforgettable legacy – regardless of whether the world will think of them as few-hit wonders or a rock band which gained a global following. Considering the singer’s untimely and shocking death (which is yet to be detailed) occurred in the midst of recording, perhaps there will be something left to immortalise her evocative, diverse range that provided soothing and solace to many.
She had told Songwriter magazine, “I go from a lot of different life experiences: births, deaths, war, pain, depression, anger, sadness… emotions, y’know. Nostalgia is a big one for me, but then I’m also obsessed with mortality. I wake up in the morning and I’m feeling anguish, I feel terrible and I don’t know why. I wake up and look out and think, ‘Oh God, how do I get through another day!?’ I get so worried, and I have a couple of cups of coffee and I start to feel okay, but life can be difficult.”
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