- 06 Sep 22
We're remembering Dolores on what would have been her 51st birthday
Hot Press is today remembering Dolores O'Riordan on what would have been her 51st birthday.
Born in 1971 in Ballybricken, Co. Limerick, she of course went on to become the lead singer with The Cranberries who enjoyed massive international success with such albums as Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, No Need To Argue and To The Faithful Departed.
The big hits they contained like 'Linger', 'Dreams', 'Zombie' and 'Ode To My Family' have gone on to become immediately recognisable cultural touchstones.
Hot Press celebrated her abundant talents in WHY CAN'T WE? The Story Of The Cranberries And The Band's Iconic Frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan. As a birthday treat for fans, we're making R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe's wonderful contribution to the book available for a limited time. The love and respect Michael had for Dolores shines through, as it does in the chats we had with Simon Le Bon, Andy Rourke, Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee and 'Linger' video director Melodie McDaniel for WHY CAN'T WE?.
As 'Dreams' pumps out of the HP office stereo, we send our love to Dolores' family, the boys in the band and Cranberries fans worldwide.
Anyway, over to Michael...
“It was ’92/’93 and I was spending a good bit of time in Los Angeles. New York had started feeling a little tired and dirty and old and I followed my best friend, who’d rented a beach cabin in Santa Monica, out west. L.A. became my second home after Athens, Georgia, which has always been my number one base because of the band and my family. I made a lot of choices for R.E.M. based on my being there, one of the best being choosing Tarsem Singh to direct the ‘Losing My Religion’ video. He’d assembled this group of incredibly talented, young, fascinating, beautiful and multi-ethnic people, which included Melodie McDaniel who at the time was working mainly as a photographer and did the stills on the ‘Losing My Religion’ shoot. We kept in touch and worked together again on the ‘Man On The Moon’ video.
She got this job to work with a young band from Ireland and invited me to come on set. It was in downtown Los Angeles in this old hotel, the Dewey, that was either completely shut down or used as a flophouse. It was just a block or two away from where Wim Wenders later shot the Million Dollar Hotel movie with Bono,
The Cranberries were sort of jumping off the cliff hiring Melodie because for all of her undoubted talents she wasn’t a proven video director. I came on set and was instantly captivated by The Cranberries. They were this vibrant, super-excited-to-be-there band making beautiful music. I was just thrilled to meet them; they were really nice, good people and brilliant songwriters. They had a great energy about them.
That’s when I first met Dolores who was young but definitely not naïve and always felt very together to me. There’s a storytelling tradition in Ireland that’s handed down, and she wound up inheriting both that and the Irish sense of humour; she was very funny to be around. I couldn’t believe that ‘Linger’ was the first thing she wrote with The Cranberries – what a song!
As an opening act, R.E.M. got treated very well and got treated really badly. The former is definitely preferable, so when we got big enough to have support groups ourselves we went for ones that we not only wanted to hear every night, but also had perspectives, personalities and politics we enjoyed and appreciated. Fulfilling all of those requirements The Cranberries were at the top of the list when R.E.M. decided to tour again in ‘95.
Dolores was a tiny woman doing a job that’s not easy for women, certainly, but she never showed fear of any kind and was a natural on stage. She had that “If I’m gonna fall on my face, it’s fine. I’m just going get right back up and do it again…” attitude. I loved that about Dolores.
There was a great camaraderie on the tour. I remember at one of the shows going through her wardrobe, which was full of these outrageous costumes Dolores had for going on stage, which is what you have to do if you’re trying to reach Row Z. Giant video screens weren’t a given at shows then so you had to project to the punters who were paying just as much money, but happened to be at the back of the room. The most outrageous was this skirt that had rubber spikes sticking out of it. She was tiny, but I was tiny too – probably just over 130lbs – so I shimmied into her little rubber number with rubber spikes sticking out of it! We were cracking up. It probably fitted better on my head than my hips, but I owned that dress.
I don’t know much about the personal dynamic between her and the band, but to me they had that same gang feel as R.E.M. did. The guys seemed incredibly supportive of Dolores as a woman who, like I say, was doing a very hard job. Allowing my insecurities and vulnerabilities to be part of who I am as a public person and performer wasn’t easy for me but, still, I’m a man. I had a bit of an easier ride there than she might have. She certainly had a command of the stage and a command of the audience, which comes back to that storytelling tradition. I’m sorry to overstate that but, as an American, it’s fascinating to recognise something that is absolutely cultural.
I’ve never sung for a Pope… as far as I know, but she did, which I know meant a lot to her as a Catholic and is an indication of just how famous she became. Those are once in a lifetime gigs, though I think Dolores might have done it twice!
We were thrilled to have The Cranberries onstage with us, and stood and watched most of the shows from the wings. I speak on behalf of Peter, Mike and Bill too when I say Dolores and the guys brought us great joy."
Photos courtesy of Melodie McDaniel.