A voice that helped define a generation was silenced when Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer for The Cranberries, died suddenly. Nearly eight months later, the coroner has finally revealed her cause of death.
There were many questions surrounding Dolores O’Riordan’s death on Jan. 15. As the lead singer of the Irish alternative band The Cranberries, her voice was a staple of 1990s radio and MTV broadcasts, so hearing she passed away suddenly at age 46 left grieving fans asking why. Now, more light has been shed on what happened to Dolores, and the “Linger” singer’s death was caused due to drowning due to alcohol intoxication, the coroner confirmed on Sept. 6.
Dolores was discovered “submerged in the bath” at the time she was found, and an examination of her body found no signs of injury or self-harm. There was a bottle of champagne, as well as five miniature bottles of alcohol, plus containers of prescription drugs. The toxicology report showed that Dolores’ blood had “therapeutic” levels of medication, but her alcohol level was astronomically high — four times over the legal limit of driving.
Dolores passed away while in London, as she was in town for “a short recording session,” the band’s publicist said in a short statement. “No further details are available at this time. Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.” The Cranberries were forced to cancel dates on a 2017 tour due to Dolores’s health, as the band cited her “medical reasons associated with a back problem” as the cause to scrap those shows. She attempted to take her own life in 2013 by overdosing, according to TMZ, as she suffered a mental breakdown. She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attributed a lot of her emotional problems from being abused as a child.
The Cranberries burst on the scene in 1993, three years after Dolores auditioned to be a singer in a Smiths-inspired band The Cranberry Saw Us, according to Rolling Stone. Their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, was a massive hit, due to singles “Dreams” and “Linger.” The Cranberries would cement their place in the 1990s alternative scene with their 1994 album, No Need To Argue, and the hit lead single, “Zombie.” Though the album brought the band success, Dolores battled anxiety and depression. “I’m an extreme person,” she told The Irish Independent in 2009, after the release of her second solo record. “I don’t get the grey areas. Either I’m extremely up or I’m extremely down. I use songwriting to deal with the mental stuff I’ve going on.”
The band released To the Faithful Departed, and while it yielded two successful singles in “Salvation” and “When You’re Gone,” the fame was waning with the changing musical trends. The band went on hiatus in 2001, following the release of Wake Up and Smell the Roses. Dolores began her solo career in 2007 with her first album, Are You Listening? The Cranberries reunited in 2009, and they released a new album in 2017, Something Else.
“When you have that sort of fame, you are bigger than your own self,” she said in another Independent interview. “I thought I was indestructible. It was only later, when I saw pictures of myself, that I realized how terrible I looked….Fame is weird. You’re just trying to be normal, but then you find yourself in the darkness.”
Our thoughts continue to go out to Dolores’s family, friends, and loved ones during this time of loss.