Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer with the multi-platinum band the Cranberries, has died aged 46.
The news was confirmed by her publicist in a statement, but no cause of death has yet been announced. O’Riordan, who had to cancel a tour with a reunited Cranberries in 2017 due to a back problem, had been in London for a recording session.
The statement described the death as “sudden”, and added: “Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”
Irish president Michael D Higgins said he learned of the news with “great sadness”, adding: “To all those who follow and support Irish music, Irish musicians and the performing arts, her death will be a big loss.”
Musicians have started to pay tribute, including Irish songwriter Hozier, who said he was “shocked and saddened”, and that O’Riordan’s voice “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.”
Irish rockers Kodaline said they were “absolutely shocked” by the news, and pop singer Maggie Rogers said “Dolores O’Riordan’s voice helped me understand my place in the world”. Jim Corr of Irish pop group the Corrs passed his “deepest sympathies” to O’Riordan’s family.
Duran Duran, whose tour manager Don Burton was married to O’Riordan for over 20 years before their divorce in 2014, said they were “crushed” by the news. O’Riordan and Burton had three children together: Taylor Baxter, Molly Leigh and Dakota Rain.
Their hits began with the lilting, keeningly romantic Linger, which reached the Top 10 in the US and Ireland, and No 14 in the UK. It was described by O’Riordan as being inspired by “being dumped, publicly, at the disco. Everything’s so dramatic when you’re 17, so I poured it into the song.”
They built on its success, and that of their album Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, with their next album, 1994’s No Need to Argue. The lead single Zombie showed a new side to the band and to O’Riordan’s voice – a heavy, tortured, anthemic song filled with the violence of the Troubles, it was written in the wake of a 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington that killed three-year-old Jonathan Ball and 12-year-old Tim Parry.
No Need to Argue sold 17m copies, including 7m in the US, and cemented them as one of the biggest alternative acts of the 1990s – their overall album sales topped 40m. The Cranberries released three more albums before taking a break in 2008, allowing O’Riordan to record two solo albums. The band reformed in 2009, initially just to perform live, but new material was eventually released on two subsequent albums, including 2017’s Something Else.
The band’s 2017 European tour was curtailed due to O’Riordan suffering from a back problem; their US dates were then also cancelled on the advice of O’Riordan’s doctors. In a statement after the cancellations the band said they were “very disappointed” and added: “The outpouring of support The Cranberries have received from fans and followers during the past several months is greatly appreciated.”