By Keith Sharp
The news hit Steve and Denny DeMarchi like a punch in the gut. Word that Cranberries’ lead vocalist Dolores O’Riordan had been found dead in her London Hilton Hotel room, age 46 was received by the DeMarchi brothers with stunned disbelief.
“When her former husband Don Burton called me this morning with the news, I broke down and cried,” admitted Denny DeMarchi who had played keyboards, guitar and backing vocals for both The Cranberries and on O’Riordan’s two solo albums.
DeMarchi, who along with guitarist brother Steve, also performed in Canadian/US super group, Alias, toured with O’Riordan between 2007-2008 and on the Cranberries’ reunion dates between 2009-2011, called O’Riordan his mentor. “Whether it was playing major concerts with bands like Aerosmith or playing to massive crowds in South America, Asia, Europe and North America, Dolores showed me how to handle radio interviews, and how to be a member of a major rock band. With her, everything was 5 Star, first class. She has left me with so many amazing memories.
Brother Steve toured as guitarist with the band from 1996 until 2003 and also toured with O’Riordan between 2005-2008 performing with Denny on O’Riordan’s first solo album, `Are You Still Listening’ which was recorded at Metalworks Studio in Mississauga in 2007 and appeared on one song (“Stupid”) on her follow up `No Baggage’ album which also featured brother Denny on keyboards.
“Dolores was a real sweetheart, she had her demons and we had a business falling out but I always respected her as a person and as an artist, I am so broken up right now, I should make a Facebook statement but I don’t know what to say.”
Like brother Denny, Steve treasures many fond memories of touring with The Cranberries and on her solo tours. “I remember playing a Christmas concert at the Vatican in 2006. It was just Dolores and me and an 80-piece orchestra. I am a rock n roll guitarist but there I was playing acoustic guitar in the Vatican.
The Cranberries came out of Limerick Southern Ireland in 1993, with Dolores, who replaced the band’s original male vocalist, contributing “Linger” which proved to be the band’s breakthrough single off their debut album `Everybody Else Is Doing It, Why Can’t We’. With a follow up hit, “Zombie” off their 1994 “No Need To Argue” release, the Irish band proved to be one of the superstar band’s of the mid-90’s selling over 40 million albums as they toured all over the globe.
Cracks started to appear when their 1996 release `To The Faithful Departed’ wasn’t a major commercial success. Steve DeMarchi, bouncing back from the dissolution of his Alias project, signed on as guitarist/vocalist and continued working with O’Riordan during her solo tours.
The Cranberries attempted a comeback with their `Roses’ release in 2011 and talked about touring in support of a 2017 `Something Else” acoustic release but O’Riordan’s failing health forced the band to cancel the dates. O’Riordan, who had relocated to Peterborough Ontario with Canadian husband, Don Burton (they divorced in 2014), was in London recording a cover version of her previous hit “Zombie” for L.A band Bad Wolves when she was found dead in her hotel room. Cause of death has yet to be determined and local police are currently launching an investigation.