Fans continue to mourn the loss of Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan after she died Monday at the age of 46.
The native of Ireland had an unmistakable voice and she also had deep connections to Canada and in particular, Peterborough and the Kawarthas where she lived with her family until a recent divorce, and according to those close to the singer, they say she considered herself half-Canadian.
“She had such deep roots in music, she had to sing, she had to play music every day,” said Wayne O’Connor, a guitarist and guitar maker in Peterborough, who toured with the Cranberries and filled in as guitarist for the internationally acclaimed band during their 2008 acoustic tour and again in 2011 for their world tour.
O’Connor calls his friend O’Riordan a “truly unique artist” and was astounded by her raw talent.
“When you study the lyrics of some of those songs that she wrote, you realize there was a lot of depth behind what she was singing about,” he said. “Everything had to have a meaning there, everything came from somewhere special, I think that was the magic of that band.”
A native of Ireland, O’Riordan called the Kawarthas and the Buckhorn area home for nearly 20 years, as she raised her family here with her former husband and Cranberries manager Don Burton who still lives in the area.
O’Connor says the late singer enjoyed it here because she had privacy and freedom to be herself.
“I call it the ‘one percenters,’ where people become that famous, where you can’t do anything, you can’t even leave your house without people sitting around waiting for you,” he said. “For celebrities like that to be able to go out in the public and not be harassed, and be able to kind of function normal was a huge thing.”
The singer was also known to frequent chef Jay Nutt’s former Lakefield café, the Nuttshell Next Door.
“We tried to make sure, that even when we recognized guests that were celebrities, that we tried to treat them as regular customers like they were just coming in for coffee,” said Nutt. “I think it was something she appreciated.”
Nutt says O’Riordan was somewhat of a regular over the years and said she was always humble and enjoyed socializing.
“She was very engaging, very charming and very charismatic,” he said. “And it didn’t matter whether it was me as the owner or with the staff, she engaged with everyone equally.”
O’Connor was in the process of making a parlour guitar for O’Riordan, as the previous one he made her became a casualty of a tour. He says he’ll finish the new guitar and pass it along to the family.
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