Noel and Mike Hogan, two brothers from Limerick formed the band with drummer Fergal Lawler in 1990. The band was originally named The Cranberry Saw Us. The lead singer at that time was a friend of theirs named Niall Quinn. The remaining band members placed an advertisement for a female singer. Dolores O'Riordan responded to the advertisement and auditioned by writing lyrics and melodies to some existing demos. When she returned with a rough version of "Linger," the group hired her.
After they hired Riordan they recorded their home-made demo tape. They made 300 copies. After the original run of 300 copies sold out, the group changed their name to the Cranberries and sent another demo tape, which featured early versions of both "Linger" and "Dreams," to record companies throughout the UK. The tape was made at Xeric studios, which was run by Pearse Gilmore, who would later become their manager.
The demo tape earned the attention of both the UK press and record industry and there soon was a bidding war between major British record labels. Eventually, the group signed with Island Records. The Cranberries headed into the studio with Gilmore as their producer to record their first single, "Uncertain." The title proved to become controversial, as the band did indeed sound ill on the single, leading to poor reviews in the press. This lead to tension between the group and Gilmore. Before they were scheduled to record their debut in 1992, the band nearly broke up because of the tension. Instead, the band outraged with the results severed all relations with Gilmore, hired Geoff Travis as their new manager, and hired Stephen Street, who had previously worked with The Smiths, as their new producer
The Cranberries' debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, was released in the spring of 1993, followed by a single of "Dreams." Neither the album or the single gained much attention, nor did a second single, "Linger", until the band embarked on a tour, catching the attention of MTV, which put their videos into heavy rotation. Although singles-wise in the UK, Linger was released first in February, 1993 peaking at 74, the single was latter re-issued in February, 1994 peaking at 14 and was followed by Dreams released in May 1994 peaking at #27)
O'Riordan married the band's tour manager, Don Burton, in July, 1994. The marriage, as well as the group's videos, emphasized the singer as the focal point of the band. O'Riordan's position in the group continued to rise with the fall release of the group's second album, No Need to Argue. Boasting a slightly harder, more streamlined sound, yet still produced by Stephen Street, the record debuted at number six on the US charts and eventually outsold its predecessor; within a year it went triple platinum, spawning the number one modern rock hit "Zombie" and the number 11 "Ode to My Family on the modern rock tracks. In 1995, they continued with a tour, and they released two more singles "I Can't Be With You" and "Ridiculous Thoughts". To date the album has sold very well. It went 5x platinum in Canada, platinum in Switzerland, and seven times platinum in the United States