Francis Burns grew up in Limerick right around the same time that the Cranberries’ lead singer-songwriter Dolores O’Riordan did. When he heard about her death Monday at the age of 46, he shook his head with sadness.
“Everyone’s going to say she was unstable and had a tough childhood,” he said. “But that’s not what stands out for everyone in Limerick. Dolores was our hero. Her dad never wanted her to play music and she always rebelled against him. She chased her dream no matter what and she was an inspiration to all of us, especially younger musicians and girls.”
O’Riordan, whose haunting, Limerick-tinged, mezzo-soprano voice led the Cranberries to unimaginable success in the 1990s with songs like “Linger,” “Zombie,” and “Dreams,” died suddenly at age 46 on Monday morning at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane in London. She had been scheduled to record vocals for a cover of “Zombie” with the hard rock group Bad Wolves later that day.
Authorities have not yet released a cause of death but say they do not consider it suspicious.
Amid a massive outpouring of grief-filled tributes from the remaining members of the Cranberries, celebrity fans and politicians, O’Riordan’s longtime friend Dan Waite, managing director of the record company Eleven Seven Music, released a statement saying O’Riordan had left him an upbeat voicemail the night before her death
“The news that my friend Dolores has passed deeply shocked me. I worked with the Cranberries at Universal Records and have kept in touch ever since,” Waite said. “Dolores left me a voice message just after midnight last night stating how much she loved Bad Wolves’ version of Zombie. She was looking forward to seeing me in the studio and recording vocals. She sounded full of life, was joking and excited to see me and my wife this week. The news of her passing is devastating and my thoughts are with her ex-husband, her children and her mother.”
Unfortunately, O’Riordan’s musical legacy and her role as a one of the few pioneering, iconic rock stars in Ireland is being inevitably overshadowed by stories about her difficult personal life. She was a shy child growing up in Ballybricken outside Limerick and while ambitious, she often referenced being overwhelmed by fame.