When Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan passed away in a London hotel room on January 15, the 46-year-old was due to enter the recording studio the very next day to lay down a vocal track for L.A.-based hard rock supergroup Bad Wolves’ version of her 1994 hit, “Zombie.”
“We received a voicemail from her the night before talking about how excited she was to be involved,” said Eleven Seven Label Group SVP of radio promotion Jackie Kajzer.
Bad Wolves consists of members of underground hard rock groups like Divine Heresy, Snot, God Forbid, Bury Your Dead and In This Moment, managed by Five Finger Death Punch’s Zoltan Bathory. The song is included on their just-released debut album, “Disobey,” for veteran industry exec Allen Kovac’s label.
O’Riordan’s sudden death inspired the band to release the single earlier this year, and pledge to donate the proceeds to the late singer-songwriter’s four children with ex-husband Don Burton – daughters Dakota, 13, and Molly, 17, son Taylor, 20 and stepson Don Jr., 28.
Tuesday night in New York City, the two sons and their father were presented with a check for $250,000 by the Bad Wolves prior to a performance at Gramercy Theater, accepting on behalf of the entire family, including their younger sisters.
The band’s front man Tommy Vext reflected, “Our sadness the day Dolores passed was nothing compared to that of her children and her family. In light of the tragedy, donating our proceeds to her children was the only thing that made sense.”
“The connection that people have to this song, the stories, the memories and the kids who are hearing this song through Bad Wolves for the first time — it’s a true testament to the timelessness of their mother’s songwriting that will live on forever, and we are so grateful to be able to do this for them.”
The label’s Kovac (who managed the Cranberries) and Eleven Seven managing director Europe Dan Waite both had prior relationships with the O’Riordan family and initiated the idea.
The song was the first hard rock song in a decade to climb to No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes overall, peaking at No. 49 on the Top 40 (where it is still at No. 52), while also topping the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs, Spotify’s Global Viral 50 and Active Rock radio chart, the latter for three consecutive weeks. The track racked up 48 million total streams globally on Spotify and Apple, with 126 million views of the video (82 million on YouTube alone) and 440,000 downloads of the single worldwide. “Zombie” also went Top 25 at Alternative, and scored No. 1 Shazam ratings in several cities, including Minneapolis and Indianapolis, with Hot AC and Top 40 play, respectively.
“It was a global phenomenon,” enthuses Kajzer. “This was like lightning in a bottle. No radio programmer expected this to explode. Like the original, this version resonated with and moved people. The audience led and radio had no choice but to follow.”
Added the band’s Vext, “The ultimate goal is to present her family with a $1,000,000 check — and the fact we’re a quarter of the way there is beyond incredible.”
“At this point, it’s all about her kids,” says Kajzer. “The song keeps the legacy alive for an iconic performer, band and a tremendous song that will continue as a tribute to her.”