“No further details are available at this time,” the band’s statement read. “Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”
The Cranberries, known for hits including “Zombie” and “Linger,” formed in 1990 in Limerick. Their 1993 debut album “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” became a huge commercial success. Over the course of the band’s career, they’ve released seven studio albums and sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
O’Riordan’s trademark unique voice alternated between delicate and powerful rawness, and with its yodels and Irish accent, came to characterize the band’s sound.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins released a statement offering condolences and noting the “immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally” that O’Riordan and the Cranberries had.
A look at the career of the Cranberries? lead singer, Dolores O?Riordan
Jim Kemmy, a legislator from Limerick, had first introduced Higgins to the band.
“I recall with fondness” that introduction and “the pride he and so many others took in their successes,” Higgins said Monday. “To her family and all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts her death will be a big loss.”
The youngest of seven, O’Riordan had been singing since she was a child and wrote her first song at age 12.
“If I started to sing, then all the others in the room would stop and listen,” she told Rolling Stone in 1995. “I always had a strong Irish accent, too. People often ask me why I sing with a strong Irish accent. I suppose when I was five years old, I spoke with a strong Irish accent, so I sang with one, too.”
O’Riordan joined guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler when she replaced departing frontman Niall Quinn in what was then called The Cranberry Saw Us. The first song O’Riordan wrote with the band was “Linger.”
“Initially, it was just a chord shape, with no real melody or lyrics,” O’Riordan told the Irish Times. “I took a tape of it home and came up with a verse and chorus. I wrote about being rejected. I never imagined that that it would become a big song.”
The Cranberries went on a hiatus in 2003 and O’Riordan released two solo albums. The group reunited in 2009.
In April 2017, the Cranberries released a compilation album that included acoustic versions of some of their biggest hits. Several months later, the band canceled most of their European summer and North American fall tour dates due to “O’Riordan’s recovery from her ongoing back problem.”
“The outpouring of support The Cranberries have received from fans and followers during the past several months is greatly appreciated,” the July statement from the group read. “Dolores and the band are very disappointed that it has come to this and send their sincere apologies to all fans and ticket holders, and hope to see you all again in the future when Dolores is well again.”
In December, O’Riordan posted a message on the band’s Facebook page.
“Feeling good! I did my first bit of gigging in months at the weekend, performed a few songs at the Billboard annual staff holiday party in New York with the house band,” O’Riordan wrote Dec. 20. “Really enjoyed it! Happy Christmas to all our fans!! Xo”
News of O’Riordan’s death was met with an outpouring of grief on social media, including from fellow musicians and entertainers.
My first time hearing Dolores O'Riordan's voice was unforgettable. It threw into question what a voice could sound like in that context of Rock. I'd never heard somebody use their instrument in that way. Shocked and saddened to hear of her passing, thoughts are with her family.— Hozier (@Hozier) January 15, 2018
Dolores O'Riordan died today & my heart is shattered & im crying in public. @The_Cranberries have always been one of my biggest influences & greatest comforts as a musician & human being. She was only 46. Her music helped me not die when I thought life would kill me.I feel gutted— Lane Moore (@hellolanemoore) January 15, 2018
I once met Delores O’Riordan when I was 15. She was kind and lovely, I got her autograph on my train ticket and it made my day. She had the most amazing voice and presence. So sorry to hear that she’s passed away today x— James Corden (@JKCorden) January 15, 2018
This post has been updated. Brian Murphy contributed to this report.