Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the beloved ’90s band the Cranberries, has died at the age of 46. The Irish musician was found dead in her hotel room in London, where she was in town for a recording session. The cause of O’Riordan’s death was not immediately announced but police say it’s not being treated as suspicious.
With her passing, O’Riordan left behind four children: 20-year-old Taylor,16-year-old Molly, 12-year-old Dakota and 9-year-old Donnie. Her devastated family has requested privacy at this time.
You probably know O’Riordan’s signature voice and some of the Cranberries’ greatest hits, but here are six things you may not have known about the talented singer:
1. Her Voice Stuck Out In School
O’Riordan came from a big, loving Irish family. She was born Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan, the youngest of seven siblings, in Ballybricken, County Limerick, an area that is mainly known for farming. As a young child, her singing talents caught the attention of teachers and fellow classmates at Laurel Hill Secondary School, who described her voice as “brilliant.”
2. Her Accent Was Controversial
Critics called O’Riordan out for singing in her Limerick accent (which can be strong and difficult for foreigners to understand), but she stuck with it … and it paid off big time! Cranberries fans loved the prominent accent and the powerful tone she put behind it.
3. She Was Outspoken About Child Abuse
O’Riordan was victimized by a sexual predator as a child, a fact that haunted her throughout her life and that she said led to “terrible self-loathing.” However, she also used her music as tool to deal with that pain. On her solo album “Just My Imagination,” the song “Fee Fi Fo” deals with issues of childhood sexual abuse, and O’Riordan was outspoken about her disgust for these abusers. “It’s the worst crime,” she once said. “I just think that people who sexually abuse children get off too easy.”
4. Her Band’s Name Was Partly An Accident
The original name of O’Riordan’s popular band was The Cranberry Saw Us (if said quickly, it sounds like “cranberry sauce,” which was part of the joke). They soon dropped the extra words and just went with The Cranberry. However, when they received a slip of mail that was wrongly addressed to The Cranberries, they decided they liked that better and decided to change it once again. Something about the name worked—because the band went on to sell 40 million records worldwide, and were described by Rolling Stone as “Ireland’s biggest musical export since U2.”
5. She Battled Mental Illness
Although O’Riordan was known for being a hard-rocker who toured frequently, she battled mental illness behind closed doors. It was her kids who helped the singer get through her 2013 suicide attempt, as well as her battles with anorexia and bipolar disorder.
6. She Was A Feminist Icon
O’Riordan was more than just a powerhouse vocalist. For many who came of age in the early ’90s, she was the first example of a tough, female musician who wasn’t afraid to be “difficult” and demand to be valued for her talent, rather than her appearance. She once said, “I’m a feminist … Someone who uses their sexuality to be heard or to be seen or to get attention—I don’t think you need to do that. I think women should be equal.”
Although O’Riordan will be sorely missed, she will never be forgotten. Here she is singing “Linger,” one of the Cranberries’ top hits from 1993.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this tragic time.