Remembering The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan: Portrait of a Lady

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DOLORES O’RIORDAN

How it’s New York: The Cranberries defined a certain kind of Indie sound beloved by alternative-music-loving New Yorkers.  The Cranberries are still a staple on New York radio with such hits as “Linger,” “When You’re Gone,” and “Zombie.”
How it’s Irish: Dolores O’Riordan, of the Cranberries, was Irish, as were the rest of the band, formed in Limerick in 1989. Members were Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. O’Riordan replaced Quinn in 1990.

Dolores O’Riordan died suddenly at age 46 on Jan. 15, 2018.

Johnny Cash’s passing  in 2003 saddened us, of course it did.

He had, however, walked his line and worn his black. He’d burned, burned, burned, and traveled a long road. He’d faced his enemies, and climbed aboard that train he heard a-comin’, alongside other legends that went before him, Ray, Bing, Duke, Ella, Frank, icons all, who’d served their time, earned their praise and deserved their plaudits.

David Bowie’s shocked us, though 69, and having been ill for some time, he’d outlasted so many of his contemporaries, Jim, Jimi, Janis, Freddie, Marc, John, Brian, George, and younger artists, whom he may well have influenced, Kurt, Amy and George. There were those who lived publicly, and often dangerously, Sid, Phil, Keith, Judy, Frankie and the Tims, whose passings saddened, but didn’t truly shock us. Illnesses, gunshots, overdoses, murders, accidents, they’ve all combined to rob us, whether prematurely or not, of the voices we grew up with, listened, tapped feet, banged heads and shaken hips to.

Those whom we raised glasses to, eyebrows at and children with.

Then there’s Dolores. Poor Dolores.

At a mere 46 years of age, Dolores O’Riordan, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with The Cranberries, one of the biggest selling acts in the world, during their heyday, left us on Jan.15. Although the cause of death had not been confirmed at the time of writing, it matters little.

The Cranberries performing on the Roxy Bar show at Bologna in 1995,

Limerick has lost a lady, Ireland an icon, and the music world, a true, genuine, real talent. Hers was a voice often imitated, occasionally parodied, but never quite equalled.

Her delivery was a powerful mix of lush, soothing lullalbies, mixed with grinding, thundering rock vocals, the likes of which, grabbed the music world of the early to mid ‘90s, and shook it free of its drab pop, outdated rock and cliched indie genres, pushing Irish music to the front of the world’s stage once more.

She’d had her troubles, few of us are fortunate enough to have avoided such issues, but when this writer interviewed her some years ago for a newspaper feature to promote her solo album; “Are You Listening?,” she was gracious, respectful, funny and charming.


Noel Hogan holding a guitar and Dolores O’Riordan singing into a microphone
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Noel Hogan holding a guitar and Dolores O’Riordan singing into a microphone in Barcelona, 1995.

Her soft, lilting Limerick accent, reminiscent of that Ballybricken schoolgirl who’d reached skyward and grabbed a starry future, reciting what she’d done that summer, masked what a superstar this little girl from Limerick had become, her humbling modesty consistently battling her raw talent for center stage.

I’ll miss Dolores, her endearing quirkiness, her endless enthusiasm, her incredible presence. That sweet, shy, Irish girl who for a time, conquered the music world, and assisted a generation to tackle its demons, overcome the monsters, and emerge victorious on the road to adulthood, middle-age and beyond. We’ll still have her voice, but we’ve lost a timeless princess, in an era ever-short of royalty.

R.I.P. Dolores.

 

 

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