Earlier this week, the body of Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan was found in a London hotel room. While police have yet to establish a cause of death for the 46-year-old musician, her bandmates and family have been absorbing it all and requesting privacy. “My friend, partner, and the love of my life is gone,” O’Riordan’s partner Olé Koretsky said in a statement. “My heart is broken and it is beyond repair.”
Noel Hogan, the Cranberries guitarist who co-founded the group and co-wrote many of their songs with O’Riordan, maintained a decades-long friendship with the singer. The band had planned to tour last year, but cancelled the trek due to O’Riordan’s “ongoing back problem.” Speaking to Rolling Stone via e-mail, Hogan spoke about the singer’s life, influence and legacy.
My earliest memory of Dolores singing is the first day I met her [in 1990]. We used to rehearse in a local studio in Limerick called Xeric. Dolores came in to hear us play and we got to hear her sing. She had a small keyboard that she set up and sang a few songs she had written. We were all blown away that this small girl from Limerick had such an amazing voice. The fact that she wasn’t already in a band was a miracle.
In my opinion, what made Dolores connect with people was her honesty. What you saw was what you got. In the early days, the band was very shy; especially Dolores. She sang with her back to the audience but sang songs that people could relate to. There was no big act. I don’t think people were used to this, and it seemed to resonate with them.
I’m not sure at what point Dolores accepted fame, or if she ever did. We would get a great kick out of it all, as if it were someone else that people were coming to see or talk about. Dolores was a very private person under it all. It was like she went to work and became Dolores the public version, then went home and lived her life away from all that.
“I’m not sure at what point Dolores accepted fame, or if she ever did.”
Like anyone, Dolores had grown up by the time our later albums [like 2012’s Roses] came out. When we were in our twenties, we had something to prove. You keep pushing and worrying about what people think. By the time Dolores did the last two albums, she was very relaxed in herself. The pressure was off and it was a great atmosphere to work in. I think she felt far more confident as an artist by then.
She was so disappointed when we had to cancel the last tour. She had looked forward to it for so long. She did everything in her power to fix the back problem, but it persisted and won in the end. We were about to start the next album in the coming months – along with some shows we were looking at. We had hoped the first of these would have been this March.
I spoke to Dolores last Friday and she was great. We spoke about getting back to work – recording and new tracks we were working on. She sent some of those tracks to me by email on Sunday morning.
Dolores had a lot of things going on in her life over the past 10 years – good and bad. But she was like a sister to me, and like any family member you would worry and try to be there for them when they need you. It was hard at times, but at the end of the day we would always end up staying in touch. It was a friendship for 29 years.
Dolores’ legacy will be her music. She was so passionate about it. There are songs I hear today that we wrote over 20 years ago, and I see and hear people singing along with them. There are only a few artists who get to have maybe one song they are remembered by. Dolores has so many. It’s a great legacy.