The music world was left stunned in early 2018 when one of Ireland’s most distinctive vocalists, Dolores O’Riordan, was found dead. The 46-year-old was best known as the lead singer of The Cranberries, although she was also a member of alt-rock trio D.A.R.K. And it would be her D.A.R.K. bandmate and boyfriend Olé Koretsky who would pay arguably the most poignant tribute to the late star.
Before O’Riordan rose to fame, however, she had had a troubled childhood. Two of her eight siblings had passed away while still just infants; her father Terry had also been rendered brain-damaged and left incapable of working by a motorbike accident. Then, in 2013 the singer revealed that she’d been sexually abused between the ages of eight and 12.
When O’Riordan was a teenager, though, she joined the band that would make her name. And her distinctive lilting voice not only helped mark The Cranberries out, but it may have helped them achieve major success both at home and on the other side of the Atlantic. The group’s 1993 debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? hit number one in Ireland and the U.K., for instance; the record was also a top 20 hit on the Billboard 200.
The Cranberries went on to release a further three U.S. top 20 LPs and achieve a worldwide sales total of 40 million records. Then, following a 2002 compilation featuring best-known hits “Linger,” “Dreams” and “Zombie,” the quartet announced a hiatus. That wasn’t the last of the band, however, as they would begin touring again in 2009. The Cranberries also finally returned to the studio to produce 2012 album Roses and its 2017 acoustic follow-up Something Else.
During her time away from the band, O’Riordan collaborated with various other artists including Zucchero, Angelo Badalamenti and Jam & Spoon. She then launched a solo career with the release of 2007’s Are You Listening?, following that up with 2009’s No Baggage. O’Riordan also appeared on the big screen in Adam Sandler movie Click and on TV as a judge on Ireland’s version of The Voice.
The singer had a musical side project, too, in D.A.R.K., which also featured her boyfriend Olé Koretsky and ex-The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke. O’Riordan had joined the band in 2014 – the same year she had split from her former husband, tour manager Don Burton. The two had been wed for 20 years and had had three children together: Taylor, Molly and Dakota.
O’Riordan seemingly struggled to cope following her separation from Burton, however. In late 2014, for instance, she found herself in court following an air rage incident in which she physically and verbally attacked both the plane crew and the police. O’Riordan later claimed that her behavior arose from stress caused by her marriage breakdown. And, as a result of her actions, she was ordered to pay €6,000 and issue a written apology to her victims.
That wasn’t the only time that O’Riordan hit the headlines, though. For example, it came to light in 2013 that she’d filed a lawsuit, for reasons still unknown, against Cranberries bandmate Noel Hogan; this, however, was later struck out. Then, in 2017 the singer drew attention for her admission that she’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That revelation was followed by reports that The Cranberries had been forced to cancel the second half of their European tour due to O’Riordan’s bad back.
Still, by the close of 2017 O’Riordan appeared to be on the mend. She’d already made her return to the stage at a private event and was gearing up to record a new version of the Cranberries hit “Zombie” with hard rock outfit Bad Wolves. Then, however, tragedy struck.
On January 15, 2018, O’Riordan was found lifeless in her hotel room on Park Lane. And while the cause of death wasn’t immediately revealed, authorities nevertheless stated that that the star’s demise wasn’t being treated as down to foul play. Fans and fellow musicians across the world went on to pay tribute to the singer, who had passed away aged just 46.
The rest of The Cranberries also released an official statement on the news, saying, “The world has lost a true artist today. We are devastated on the passing of our friend Dolores. She was an extraordinary talent, and we feel very privileged to have been part of her life from 1989 when we started The Cranberries.”
Meanwhile, producer Stephen Street, who worked with The Cranberries on their debut album, expressed his sorrow in a tweet, posting “R.I.P. my songbird.” Irish president Michael D. Higgins would also describe O’Riordan’s passing as a huge loss to the music industry in a personal tribute, while celebrities including James Corden, Liz Phair and Questlove all offered their own condolences.
And while O’Riordan’s boyfriend initially kept quiet about the tragedy, his tribute, uploaded to the D.A.R.K. website, proved to be one of the most affecting. In the statement, Koretsky said, “My friend, partner and the love of my life is gone. My heart is broken and it is beyond repair.”
Koretsky went on to add, “Dolores is beautiful. Her art is beautiful. Her family is beautiful. The energy she continues to radiate is undeniable. I am lost. I miss her so much. I will continue to stumble around this planet for some time knowing well there’s no real place for me here now.”
Just a few weeks prior to O’Riordan’s death, Koretsky had shared a sweet photo of him and the singer on his Instagram account. The picture was captioned, “NYE: take away, TV, pajamas.” A day later he retweeted O’Riordan’s last ever tweet, a picture of her holding her cat which was captioned, “Bye, bye Gio. We’re off to Ireland.”
And Koretsky was among the many mourners who attended O’Riordan’s funeral eight days after her death. The service was held at the church where she used to sing as a youngster in her hometown of Ballybricken. O’Riordan’s ex-husband and their three children were also in attendance, as were her mother, her siblings and the rest of The Cranberries.
One of The Cranberries’ most emotive songs, “When You’re Gone,” was played at the end of the service. O’Riordan was then buried alongside her father Terence, who had passed away following a lengthy cancer battle in 2011. The star had been at her cherished dad’s bedside when he died.
Prior to the funeral, fans had been able to pay their respects to the star during a three-day memorial also held in her hometown. There, O’Riordan’s body was on public display in an open casket. Her music was played throughout the memorial, and images of her performances, as well as a snapshot of the singer with Pope John Paul II, were on display.
And O’Riordan’s death also sparked a renewed interest in The Cranberries’ back catalog. Their 2002 hits compilation, Stars, even reached number 16 on the Billboard 200, giving the band their highest chart position since 1999. Five of their classic hits – including “Zombie,” “Linger” and “Dreams” – also entered the Hot Rock Songs chart again.
In February 2018, however, the surviving members of The Cranberries spoke out to reveal some news that may have cheered fans of the band. Specifically, they revealed that O’Riordan’s voice would be heard once again on a brand-new studio effort from the group, which they would be finishing and releasing. This, O’Riordan’s fellow musicians stated, was what their late bandmate would have wanted. And, perhaps, the finished album will provide some solace to those who miss the Irish star.