With the sad and shocking news of the passing of Dolores O’Riordan at the way-too-early age of 46 I am sure, like a lot of people, it’s taking time to settle in.
I don’t recall anyone with a more distinctive and emotive voice, whose songs painted pictures of life on life’s terms, whose own harrowing stories of growing up added an extra degree of truth in what she sang about.
The Cranberries arrived on the scene early – they caught on fast. O’Riordan was barely out of her teens when she joined the band in 1990, winning an audition for replacement of the band’s original singer Niall Quinn. Their demo tapes sparked bidding wars in the UK and they were featured in sessions for both Dave Fanning at RTE 2FM in Dublin and John Peel at BBC Radio 1.
It’s this session, from March 9, 1991 that is their first for Fanning and their first anyplace. This was before the official debut single (they had a self-released ep in January of 1990 and two additional eps for Xeric in August of that year) and before the debut album. While word-of-mouth was spreading and people couldn’t get enough of the voice of Dolores O’Riordan.
Even at this first session there was something different – O’Riordan’s was no run-of-the-mill voice and O’Riordan had no run-of-the-mill look. Her short-cropped or buzz-cut hair became a style statement, adding to her popularity.
It was her song-writing ability that won the most recognition, starting with a nomination for a Brit Award in 1995, going on to win Ivor Novello, Juno and MTV Awards between 1995 and 1997. In 2003 The Cranberries announced an extended hiatus before reuniting in 2009. During the hiatus, O’Riordan went on to a successful solo career.
But all of that’s over now – a 2017 tour was cancelled after only a few dates in May of that year. The reason was a health issue for O’Riordan with no other explanation. The same with news of her death earlier today – it came unexpected. And like everyone, it came with a gnawing loss and unbelieving gaze.
So as a tribute – here is that first session for Dave Fanning at RTE 2FM as it was heard on March 9, 1991.
Dolores O’Riordan – you will be missed.