Born In: County Limerick, Ireland
Dolores O’Riordan was an Irish musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the Irish band the Cranberries. Born and raised in County Limerick, Dolores grew up in a big family that was not financially well off. She was deeply inclined toward music since her childhood years. She sang in school and church choir and learned to play guitar, piano, and accordion. At the age of 20, she joined the Irish alternative rock band, the Cranberries and soon soared to international success. She sang the lead vocals and wrote songs for the band’s hugely successful albums such as Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, No Need to Argue, and Bury the Hatchet. Some singles from her earlier albums, titled Zombie and Silent Night became chart-topping hits. The band embarked on a hiatus in 2003, and in the late 2000s, Dolores released two solo albums: Are You Listening? and No Baggage. In 2009, she reunited with the Cranberries and later released two more albums with the band. In 2018, she passed away from alcohol intoxication. She is widely considered to be among the best female musicians of all time.
Also Known As: Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan
Spouse/Ex-: Don Burton (m. 1994–2014)
father: Terence Patrick O'Riordan
children: Dakota Rain Burton, Molly Leigh Burton, Taylor Baxter Burton
Born Country: Ireland
Cause of Death: Drowning
Dolores O’Riordan was born Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan, on September 6, 1971, in County Limerick, Ireland, to Eileen and Terence O’Riordan. She was the youngest among the nine children in her family and grew up with six siblings after two of her younger siblings passed away in infancy. She was raised in a poor family where her father worked as a farm laborer and was later left unable to work as he was brain injured after an accident.
Her mother worked as a school caterer, and she single-handedly took care of the entire family. Dolores showed a passion for singing from a very early age. She also claimed that she had started singing before she could even talk. She began singing Irish traditional music while she was still a kid, and she also learned to play the Irish tin whistle at the age of 5.
When she was seven years old, Dolores lost her house following an incident where her sister accidentally set their house on fire. However, the local community of the town gathered sufficient funds to help the family relocate to a new house just nearby.
In her teen years, Dolores began singing in the church choirs and in her school stage shows. She also learned to play the piano and very quickly mastered the instrument. By the time she graduated high school, she had already begun practicing playing the guitar.
She became extremely busy with her musical endeavors that she almost neglected her academia in favor of music. She attended Laurel Hill Coláiste Secondary School, where she competed in the Slógadh song contest and won for six years in a row.
She worked at a clothing store as a part-time employee to assist her mother to run the household. Her parents wanted her to join a college or to begin working as a music teacher, but Dolores had bigger plans.
At the age of 18, she left her house and began living with her boyfriend of that time. For almost more than a year, she had to struggle a lot to make the ends meet. Then, things turned around for her in the year 1990.
In 1989, the rock band, the Cranberries was formed, and they were recruiting more like-minded musicians to join the band. They approached Dolores on the referral of a mutual friend. After an initial audition, Dolores was hired to be a part of the band in 1990.
Dolores had not completed her high school graduation. She showed less interest in academic pursuits. Although she scored good grades, she was highly determined about forging a career in music that she never cared about academics and dropped out of her school.
The band’s first EP titled Nothing Left At All was recorded to pursue record labels. Following the release of the demo tape, a number of major record companies contacted the Cranberries for collaboration. The band eventually signed with Island Records. They recorded one more EP before they started working on their debut studio album.
However, Dolores was shy, had an introverted nature, and was still struggling financially. During their early live shows, she had trouble facing the audience and usually performed with her back to the audience. Later, in 1993, the band released their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Apart from being the lead singer, Dolores also served as the co-songwriter for the album. The album became a massive hit and topped charts in both UK and Ireland. In the United States alone, Island Records shipped six million copies of the album.
Dolores became a huge style icon in the 1990s following the success of the album. Her pixie haircut and her boots soon became a style statement. She was just 22 years old then, and her success was already making waves across the national borders.
The band’s second album No Need to Argue turned out to be an even bigger success than its predecessor. The album sold millions of copies in the US, UK, Ireland, and Australia, among other countries, and was the world’s best-selling album of 1995 by any European artist. A song from the album, Zombie, became an international hit and broke many records.
Dolores further appeared on the cover of The Rolling Stones magazine in the March 1995 edition. She was being compared to the actress Audrey Hepburn and singer David Bowie. Later that year, she embarked on the Together for the Children of Bosnia tour wherein she performed songs onstage for raising funds for the charity.
The band released its third album To the Faithful Departed in 1996, which was an instant success. However, the band had to stop the promotional tour midway as Dolores was facing health issues, and their decision to cancel the tour was a major financial blunder for the record company and the band management. But Dolores insisted that the team was too exhausted and that they desperately needed a break. Dolores also accepted that she was depressed and suffering from anorexia.
The band further released two more albums: Bury the Hatchet and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. With these new albums, the fans of the Cranberries saw the music of the band getting more mature. Both these albums were highly successful. In 2003, the band members announced that they were going on a hiatus to focus on their solo projects.
In the following few years, before Dolores began working on her solo album, she collaborated with other musicians on their albums and performed a few live shows. In the mid-2000s, she hired Tony Ciulla to be her manager. Her debut solo album, titled Are You Listening? was released in May 2007.
The album was met with strong critical and commercial success and was appreciated for including songs in multiple genres with many layers. Dolores promoted the album on many television and radio programs as well.
In 2009, she released her second solo album titled No Baggage. While the album did not receive as much commercial success, it was a solid critical success. It was also her last solo venture.
In late 2009, the Cranberries got back together and spent the next few months touring around North America and South America. They also released two more studio albums, titled Something Else and Roses.
During the 2013–2014 season of the Irish talent hunt show The Voice of Ireland, she appeared as one of the mentors. She also worked with the music trio D.A.R.K. on an album in the mid-2010s.
Throughout her career, she has received numerous awards including an MTV Europe Music Award, a World Music Award, and a Juno Award. She has also been nominated for several other awards, such as a Brit Award.
In 1994, Dolores O’ Riordan married Don Burton, the former manager of the British band Duran Duran. They met when Duran Duran and the Cranberries were on a tour together. They had three children together. However, the couple split and got divorced in 2014.
Dolores was catapulted to international fame early in her life, which took a major toll on her mental health due to all the pressure. She suffered from depression and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015.
She passed away from alcohol intoxication on January 15, 2018. She was 46 years old at the time of her demise.
Her vocals were last featured on the Cranberries album, titled In the End, which was the final album by the band. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award. Soon after the release of the album, the Cranberries disbanded.