Dolores O Riordan was an Irish music artist, singer, songwriter, and vocalist for the popular rock band The Cranberries. She was with the band group from 1990 until their break up in 2003. They came back together and got reunited in 2009, she stayed with the group until her death in 2018.
O Riordan whose first solo album Are You Listening, was released in 2007, was also known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice, strong Limerick accent as well as her use of keening. Her expertise gave her the leverage to appear as a judge on The Voice of Ireland in the 2013 and 2014 season. In 2014, Dolores O Riordan started recording new material with the New York-based rock band group called D.A.R.K.
Dolores O Riordan’s Biography
Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan was born in Ballybricken, County Limerick on September 6, 1971, into a Roman Catholic family as the youngest child among nine children born of her parents. Beside two of her siblings who died at infancy, O Riordan’s other six siblings are Terence, Brendan, Donal, PJ, Joseph, and Angela. Her mother Eileen was a school caterer while her late father Terence Patrick O’Riordan (1937–2011) was a farm laborer who suffered brain damage due to a motorbike accident in 1968.
Dolores O Riordan attended Laurel Hill Coláiste FCJ school in her hometown, Limerick where she was made the head girl but didn’t graduate. She said, during an interview in 1995, that writing music and song diverted her focus from school lessons. She also revealed, in 2013, that she was sexually abused for four years by someone she trusted even though she did not specify exactly who it was.
Career with The Cranberries
Dolores O Riordan joined The Cranberry Saw Us (now The Cranberries) in 1989. It was a rock band originally made up of brothers Mike Hogan (bass) and Noel Hogan (guitar), Fergal Lawler (drummer) and Niall Quinn (singer). When Quinn left the band less than a year after it was formed, the remaining members issued an ad for a female singer. O Riordan auditioned by writing lyrics and melodies to some existing demos and got hired when she made a rough version of Linger. Together, they recorded a three-track EP titled Nothing Left At All, which sold 300 copies.
Their demo, Linger and Dreams garnered the attention of UK press and record industry. After much deliberations, The Cranberries signed with Island Records and released five albums: Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999), and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001), and Stars: The Best of 1992–2002.
O Riordan’s presence in the band was largely felt in the 1990s; both for her iconic style, her pixie or buzzed haircut and her enchanting habit of performing barefoot.
In 2003, as the band agreed to go on solo projects, Dolores O Riordan collaborated on a number of albums including Zu & Co., in the song Pure Love and on the Evilenko soundtrack. She later released her first single, Ordinary Day, followed by Are You Listening? which is her first album released in Ireland, Europe and in North America; all in the same month in 2007. In August of the same year When We Were Young was released as her second single from the album.
Meanwhile, she was named among the 10 richest women in Ireland, 2006. The following year, she won an EBBA Award which recognizes 10 emerging artists or group who are able to capture audiences outside their own countries. As her music career continued to soar, she dropped a second album No Baggage, featuring 11 tracks in August 2009.
The Cranberries reunion brought O Riordan and the rock band members together again to perform at a concert celebrating O’Riordan’s appointment as an honorary member of the Society. They also went on tours starting from North and South America (2010) to Europe where the band not only played their classics but also played songs from O Riordan’s solo album as well as other new songs.
Dolores O Riordan also formed a click with D.A.R.K, an alternative rock band that comprises of three members including Andy Rourke and Olé Koretsky in April 2014. She remained active with both rock bands (The Cranberries and D.A.R.K) until her unexpected demise in January 2018.
O Riordan married her husband Don Burton, who was formerly her tour manager, on July 18, 1994, at Holy Cross Abbey in Co. Tipperary. They had three kids and stayed married for 20 years until it ended in late 2014.
How Did She Die? Who are Her Children?
While her life seemed perfect, O Riordan had some health issues living with bipolar disorder. She was found dead in a bathtub in her lounge at the London Hilton on Park Lane hotel in Mayfair on 15 January 2018. She was in London for a recording session when the tragic incident happened but the police said there’s no suspicion of foul play. An inquest into the cause of her death revealed it was an accidental drowning due to sedation by alcohol intoxication.
Five miniature bottles and that of champagne and prescription drugs were found in her room. A blood test conducted on her showed 0.33% blood alcohol content and only “therapeutic” amounts of medications. A three-day memorial service at was held at Dolores O Riordan’s home church St Joseph on 20–22 January in her honor. She was buried beside her father, on January 23, 2018. The ceremony was attended by close and distance relations; ex-husband, Don; friends; The Cranberries members and music icons in attendance.
Her death saw tributes pouring in from all sides including the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, Polish President Andrzej Duda and others from across the music world. Dolores O Riordan is survived by her three children, Taylor Baxter Burton (born in 1997), Molly Leigh Burton (2001), and Dakota Rain Burton (2005); mother, Eileen; and siblings. She managed to keep her children out of the spotlight hence, their photos are rarely seen on the internet.