Noel and Michael Hogan, brothers from county Limerick, Ireland, formed a boy band in 1989 with drummer Fergal Lawler and singer Niall Quinn. Less than a year later, Quinn left what was then called The Cranberry Saw Us and was replaced with singer/songwriter Dolores O'Riordan to form what has become one of the most famous Irish acts of all time, The Cranberries.
O'Riordan responded to an advert by the band looking for a new singer with lyrics and melodies for a few of the band's existing songs. After hearing her ideas for the song "Linger
" and her unique lilting, sometimes ethereal voice, O'Riordan was hired. The band started out recording rough demos, including early versions of later hit singles "Linger" and "Dreams," selling some 300 copies of their demo tape in stores throughout Ireland. This demo was recorded at Xeric Studios, run by Pearse Gilmore who would later become the teenager band's manager. Having sent the demo tape to numerous large UK record companies, the band received a lot of industry and media attention. After a bidding war between labels, the band eventually signed with Island Records and headed into the studio with Gilmore to record their first single, "Uncertain."
The somewhat prophetic title of their first single did indeed precede tension within the band. After the single received negative reviews and limited success, The Cranberries discovered that Gilmore had signed a secret deal with Island Records to improve his studios. After almost disbanding, The Cranberries decided to ditch Gilmore, severing all ties with him, hiring Geoff Travis as their new manager and Stephen Street as their producer. Street had previously worked with The Smiths.
Armed with a new manager and producer, the band headed back into the Dublin studio in 1992 and released their first single "Dreams" later that year. The music video for dreams features the pixie-like O'Riordan and band members singing against a watery, shadowy background reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees stylings. Another version of the video was released on the album Stars years later, this time featuring a more fantasy-like story in which a young man is wrought from a tree log while O'Riordan strolls around a ghostly city trailing a microphone, followed by a magnificent white horse.
In 1993, the album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? was released including the cleaned-up single version of the demo "Linger." The Cranberries didn't gain much attention with this release, however, not until they started a UK and Irish tour supporting Suede. During the tour, The Cranberries caught the attention of MTV, which resulted in their videos being put into heavy rotation. This allowed the band a successful European and North American tour while their debut album peaked at #1 on the UK Album Chart.
In 1994, the band headed back into the studio with Stephen Street to record what is possibly their most famous and critically acclaimed album, No Need to Argue
. The album went triple platinum within a year. Of the singles released off this album including "Ode to My Family," "I Can't be with You" and "Ridiculous Thoughts," the single that garnered the most attention and radio playtime is "Zombie
," a song that is still frequently played on international radio stations and on indie dance floors. The song itself was quite a statement for the time, lamenting the turbulent political situation in Northern Ireland, particularly the IRA bombing of Warrington, England, which resulted in the death of two children. The music video again reflects the dark melancholy and repressed anger in the song, featuring a number of children, who, during the climax of the song, are seen screaming around a crucifixion like figure of O'Riordan who stands smeared in gold against a cross. The whole album sees a more somber approach from the band, featuring themes of war, death, love and disappointment. The band opted for a clearer sound on O'Riordan's voice, ditching the signature layering used in previous recordings while kicking up the distortion and volume on the guitars for a more rock and less pop sound.
After the success of their second album and heavier tracks like "Zombie," the band delivered their third album To The Faithful Departed in 1996. This heavier offering didn't enjoy the same success as the previous album and the band canceled their European and Australian tours amidst rumors of O'Riordan leaving the band to embark on a solo career.
The band went on hiatus in the late '90s after O'Riordan started having anxiety attacks. She credits therapy for getting her through these difficult times, as she couldn't handle the intense media attention at such a young age - she was just 18 when she joined the band.
After her recovery, O'Riordan had her first child and the band released their fourth album, Bury the Hatchet, in 1999. Singles from this album included "Animal Instinct," "Promises," and "Just My Imagination." The band performed on the popular television series, Charmed, with their single "Just My Imagination" in the episode "She's a Man, Baby, A Man!" The band enjoyed the most successful world tour of their careers after the release of this album. The songs of this album deal with themes ranging from maternity and children, to divorce and child abuse. The cover of the album features a man cowering from a giant eye designed by Storm Thorgerson who had done covers for the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
The Cranberries headed back into the studio in 2001 to record Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. The only single to make an appearance in UK and US charts was "Analyse." The following year saw the release of Stars – The Best of 1992-2002 which included an eponymous DVD of all their music videos as well as the new single, "Stars." This release spurred a new European tour, including performances with The Rolling Stones. In September 2003, despite working on a new album, the band announced they'd be going on indefinite hiatus to pursue solo careers.
2009 saw the band reunite for a North American and European tour. Songs performed included Cranberries classics as well as new songs from O'Riordan's solo albums. From April to May 2011, the band recorded their new album Roses in Toronto, Canada with their original producer Stephen Street.
O'Riordan married Don Burton in 1994. He was Duran Duran's tour manager, and he met Dolores when The Cranberries were their opening act - she was just 21 at the time and he was 10 years older.
While the internet was exploding in the early '00s, O'Riordan was off the grid, focusing on raising her family. She had no website, but would occasionally check out unofficial sites to see what was being written about her.