If you know me, then you know how I love the Cranberries. They are my absolute favourite band of all time. There is just something about them that I have always been drawn to. Since the very first time I heard them, I was a huge fan.
My love of the Cranberries goes all the way to the very beginning and their very first single “Linger”. Their unique sound and alternative rock style, was unlike anything that I had heard before. With her angelic and very Irish sound, Dolores would make this band a band to remember.
Who are they
This Irish band from Limerick was made up of 4 members. Niall Quinn, Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler. The band was originally formed in 1989 with Niall Quinn as the lead singer, and at that time the band was called “Cranberry Saw Us”.
After the departure of the lead singer Niall from the band, the 3 remaining members were on the hunt for a new lead singer. With brothers Noel and Mike and Fergal on drums the band was all of a sudden without a lead singer.
In 1990 in hopes of finding a new lead singer, they ran an article in the newspaper. A young lady by the name of Dolores O’Riordan responded and auditioned for the position. After the audition, Dolores took one of the bands current rough demos and returned days later to play the song with her new written lyrics. The song was called “Linger”. At that point, impressed with Dolores’s talent for singing and writing the band instantly hired her on the spot.
To get traction, the newly revamped band recorded the song “Linger” by doing a blitz of 300 copies to locale record stores and quickly selling out. After this quick sell out, the band decided to change its name to “The Cranberries”.
They continued to send out demos of both “Linger” and “Dreams” within the UK. With such hype for this new Irish band, their music was quickly part of a bidding war between record labels to produce their first album. The band decided to go with Island Records. Remember at this time, the band members were still in their late teens. Pretty hard to believe that such a young group could garner such interest so early.
The first album they released in 1993 was called “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We”. The album initially didn’t get much traction, but later in 1993, they headed to the United States to tour as an opening for the band “The The” and “Suede”.
That tour seemed to create a real buzz for the band with their amazing live performances. Even to the point of overshadowing the headliners. This popularity caused MTV to start playing “Linger” on a heavy rotation. Quickly the song became a hit placing it #8 on the charts. Finally, by 1994 the band had gained attention in the UK even hitting number one by summer of that year.
The success of “Linger” as the bands first single cemented them as one of the powerhouse bands of the 1990s.
The band would go on to release 8 studio albums over a 26 years period. From “No Need To Argue”, all the way to the last album “In The End”. The bands massive success has made them a band like no other.
Their second album released in 1994 was called “No Need To Argue”. It would produce hits like “Zombie” and “Ode To My Family”. Zombie would go on to become one of their most famous songs of all time. The song written by Dolores, would reach #1 on the charts in 6 different countries. A very political song that tells the story of the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington. The song was a tribute to the 2 young boys, who were victims in the bombing.
Their third album “To The Faithful Departed” hit the stores on April 30, 1996. The album was a tribute to Dolores grandfather Joe who had passed away that year and to Denny Cordell, who was credited with signing the band to Island Records. This album created hits like “Salvation”, “Hollywood” and the song “When You’re Gone” which would later become one of the songs that would be played at Dolores funeral in 2018.
It would take 3 years for their next album in 1999 called “Bury The Hatchet” to be released. The delay was in part to Dolores giving birth to her first child a son “Taylor” with Canadian husband “Don Burton”. The theme for this album tackled topics like divorce and child abuse creating singles like “Promises”, “Animal Instinct” and “Just My Imagination”. One less popular song “You And Me” was a tribute to her new son “Taylor”, and to date is one of my all time favourite songs they would sing. There was just something about the heartfelt lyrics of becoming a new mother that would stick with me.
2 years later they would release their fifth study album “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee”. This album was released in 2001 and would be the last album before a long 11 year hiatus. Hits like “Analyze” and “Time Is Ticking Out” came out of this album release. The single “Time Is Ticking Out” was in response to the children of the historic Chernobyl disaster that would cause many to be born with horrific illnesses. So dedicated to the cause, all proceeds from the single were donated to the “Chernobyl Children’s Project”. As always Dolores’s passion for writing songs that help bring light to disaster situations was again in the forefront.
Although we did not get a new album for years, we were lucky enough to get the greatest hits album in 2002 called “Stars: The Best of 1992-2002”. This album would feature 17 of their most popular tracks in chronological order. It would include 2 new singles “Stars” and “New New York”. The song “New New York” would be a tribute to the new landscape of New York after the tragic 911 terrorist attacks.
Jump ahead to 2012, and that would be the time frame before we would see a new full Cranberries album. This would be the bands sixth album and was called “Roses”. The biggest hit off this album would be the single “Tomorrow”. Dolores would say in an interview that this song is about how when we are young, we worry about things that are silly and not important. Only realizing that when you are older and can look back would you realize that they never really mattered.
The next album by the Cranberries, would again be a long wait. and would not be released until 2017. Unbenounced to the world, would be released 1 year before her death, in 2018. The album was called “Something Else” and would be a completely different sounding album then we had ever heard before. Recorded as an unplugged album with an Orchestra accompaniment, would include 10 previously released songs redone and would include 3 news songs “Glory”, “Why” and “Rupture”. The 10 previously released songs were some of their most famous songs, with a new twist for their fans to enjoy. This album would once again show off Dolores amazing voice in a completely new and beautiful light.
The last and final album by the Cranberries would not be released until 2019, 1 year after Dolores tragic and sudden death in 2018. The album would include tracks that Dolores and the band had been working on prior to her death. Luckily the lyrics and Dolores vocals had already been laid out before her death and once she passed, the band would commit to completing this album in her honor. As a fan, this album would be bitter-sweet. We were so happy to get new music, but at the same time it was almost tortured knowing that we would never again here her wonderful voice on an album.
Dolores, was born in Ballybricken in the county of Limerick, Ireland on September 6th 1971. Growing up in a very Catholic and working class family, Dolores would grow up singing in church as a soloist. With 5 brothers and 1 sister, Dolores’s family lived a very modest life.
Her love of music was a huge part of her life even as a young girl. Penning her first song “Calling” at the young age of 12, Dolores always wanted to be a singer when she grew up. A passion for singing was what would drive her to perform and write songs that were far from the typical Irish singer we would normally hear. Her mother who she says had a huge influence in life, loved to listen to Elvis Presley. Her brothers on the other hand whom she spent much time with, loved heavy metal music. She credits the influence of her brothers music along with music from “the Smiths”, “the Cure”, “the Kinks, “New Order” and as being responsible for her style of music.
Throughout her life, Dolores would struggle with insomnia, depression, and anorexia. Coming out publicly in 2013 to divulge that she had suffered from sexual abuse as a child from a family member from the age of 8-12 years of age. She credits her love of her family, as the comfort that would get her through the tough times in her life.
Her style and ever-changing appearance, would be something that would always keep her relevant and unique. Along with her changing hair color and sometimes crazy outfits, would make her one of a kind. There truly was nobody that you could compare Dolores too.
Throughout her career as a member of the Cranberries the band would take significant breaks giving Dolores the opportunity to release two solo albums. One in 2007 called “Are You Listening” and her second solo album in 2009 called “No Baggage”.
With her husband of 20 years Don Burton, they would have 3 children together, Taylor, Molly and Dakota. They would sadly divorce in 2014. After her divorce Dolores would struggle to get her life back on track.
In 2014 their would be an incident on a flight from New York to London with a flight attendant that would result in a court proceeding. Dolores would later come out publicly with her diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. This illness was a contributing factor to the incident on the plane.
After overcoming so much over the decades, she was finally on a role again in her life. The band had decided to do a new album and along with many side projects, Dolores was back.
Sadly on January 15, 2018 she accidentally drowned in her bath tub in a hotel room in London. Such a sudden and tragic loss, far to young.
My favourite band
My love of the Cranberries started right from the very beginning. I was in awe of Dolores voice, talent and style. Her ability to sing with a hint of that Irish accent, had me fascinated.
In the early nineties, while living in Saskatoon and the band was touring to Winnipeg, MB. I would sadly pass on this lifetime chance to see them as I couldn’t find anyone to travel the 900 KM to come with me. That decision would haunt me for more than a decade.
Luckily with the release of the “Roses” album I would get my chance once again. I was living in Gananoque Ontario at the time of the album release. I waited hoping they would tour and luckily for me they did. In May 2012, they would include Montreal, QC as a stop on that tour. I jumped at the chance to go. I got tickets the second they went on sale.
I still remember that night like it was yesterday. It was so exciting, I was like a kid in the candy store. Seeing her live and watching the entire band was like a dream. Music has had such an impact on my life, that finally getting to see her sing my favourite songs was one of the happiest days of my life.
Sadly her death 6 years later, would be one of the worst. The news was a complete shock to my system, I was devastated. Knowing that I would never going to hear her sing another new song every again, slowly sunk in.
To honor how I love the Cranberries, I got a tattoo on my arm in 2019 as a tribute to Dolores. That way everyday, I would remember that life is short and that no matter how famous you are, a long life is never a guarantee. Plus I also get to sit it and remember her and my love of this amazing little band from Limerick, Ireland.