Formation and early years (1989–1992)
In 1989, brothers Mike (bass) and Noel (guitar) Hogan formed The Cranberry Saw Us with drummer Fergal Lawler and singer Niall Quinn, in Limerick, Ireland. Less than a year later, Quinn left the band. The remaining band members then 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", she was hired and they recorded Nothing Left At All, a three-track EP released on tape by local record label Xeric Records, which sold 300 copies. The group changed their name to "The Cranberries". The owner of Xeric Studios, Pearse Gilmore, became their manager and provided the group with studio time to complete another demo tape, which he produced. It featured early versions of "Linger" and "Dreams", which were sent to record companies throughout the UK.
This demo earned the attention of both the UK press and record industry and sparked a bidding war between major British record labels. Eventually, the group signed with Island Records. The Cranberries headed back into the studio with Gilmore as their producer to record their first EP Uncertain and created a music video for the title track, which was not released. The EP received poor reviews in the press and led to tension between the group and Gilmore. After a difficult recording session, intended for their first album on Island Records in January 1992, the band scrapped their work and fired Gilmore. After hiring Geoff Travis as their new manager, the Cranberries headed back into the studio in Dublin in March 1992 to restart working on their first LP with Stephen Street, who had previously worked with The Smiths.
During that time period, the Cranberries toured in Ireland and the UK, getting the attention of the British press. The band also recorded several studio and live sessions intended for Irish and British radio and television shows, including 2fm's The Dave Fanning Show and BBC Radio 1's John Peel Show.
Mainstream success (1993–1995)
O'Riordan singing onstage at the height of their fame, 1995
The band's debut single "Dreams" was released in September 1992, followed by their first full-length album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? in March 1993. Neither the album nor the single gained much attention, nor did a second single, "Linger". When the band embarked on a tour supporting Suede, they caught the attention of MTV, which put their videos into heavy rotation. Although "Linger" was first released in the UK in February 1993, peaking at 74, it was later re-issued in February 1994 peaking at 14. This was followed by "Dreams" (released again in May 1994, peaking at No. 27) which helped their debut album to top the UK Album Chart in June.
The group reunited with Street for No Need to Argue, which was released in late 1994. It would go on to peak at No. 6 on the US charts and eventually outsold its predecessor. Within a year it went triple platinum, spawning the number one hit "Zombie" and the No. 11 "Ode to My Family" on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
In 1995, the band continued to tour, and released two more singles "I Can't Be with You" and "Ridiculous Thoughts". The album went 5× platinum in Canada, platinum in Switzerland, and 7× platinum in the United States.
Middle era (1996–2000)
The band's third album To the Faithful Departed peaked at No. 2 in the UK and No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Despite favorable reviews, the album did not match the sales of No Need to Argue. The album went double platinum in the US and Gold in the UK. The first single from the album was "Salvation" which topped the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single from the album was "Free to Decide"; the single's peak in the UK was 33 and placing on the Billboard Hot 100. In late 1996, the group cancelled their Australian and European tour, sparking rumours that O'Riordan was about to launch a solo career. In November 1996 "When You're Gone" was released as a single in the United States, peaking at 22 on the Hot 100.
In 1999, the group released Bury the Hatchet. The first single "Promises" was released in February. "Promises" would be the only single from the album to chart in the US and last single before their hiatus. The album peaked at 7 in the UK and 13 in the US and was certified gold in the US. The second single from the album was "Animal Instinct", which didn't chart in the UK, although it did chart in France, Austria and many others. The third and fourth singles were "Just My Imagination" and "You & Me", respectively. The band had a guest appearance on popular television series Charmed, performing "Just My Imagination" on the fifth episode of the second season, "She's a Man, Baby, a Man!". The group started a world tour in April 1999 and it finished in July 2000. The group partnered with Ticketmaster.com to be the first artists to sell tickets for a national tour exclusively online. It was the biggest and most successful tour of the Cranberries' career. The tour brought them back to Ireland for their first date since May 2000. They performed at Millstreet in County Cork. As the tour rolled on, the band released Bury The Hatchet – The Complete Sessions, a double CD featuring B-sides as well as live tracks taken from a show in Paris.
Later years (2001–2003)
In October 2001, the album Wake Up and Smell the Coffee was released. The band's old producer Stephen Street had returned and produced their new music video. The album peaked at 46 on the Billboard 200 and reached No. 61 in the UK. The first single released from the album was "Analyse", which charted in the US Adult Top 40 at a peak of 26. In January 2002, they released the second single "Time Is Ticking Out", and some months later another one, "This Is the Day".
The following year a greatest hits album was released entitled Stars – The Best of 1992–2002 which was released alongside an eponymous DVD of music videos. The album peaked in the UK at 20. The song "Stars" was released as a single from that album. They started a European tour in mid-October 2002, which ended in December of the same year.
At the end of February 2003, the Cranberries started working with Stephen Street and debuted their work for the first time in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 29 May 2003 performing the songs "Astral Projection" and "In it Together". That September, the band announced they were taking some time to pursue individual careers and scrapped sessions for a sixth studio release.
Hiatus and solo careers (2004–2008)
O'Riordan singing solo, 2007
Dolores O'Riordan started collaborating with other musicians in 2004 before launching her solo career with the album Are You Listening? in 2007, following it with No Baggage in 2009. Dolores O'Riordan performed "Linger" in the 2006 movie Click.
Noel Hogan started a new project called Mono Band, whose first full-length self-titled album saw a limited release in 2005. He went on to form Arkitekt with singer-songwriter Richard Walters. He has also been working as a producer with Supermodel Twins, from his native Limerick and Remma. Fergal Lawler was a member of The Low Network, whose first album was released in 2007. He has also worked with Walter Mitty and the Realists as well as Last Days Of Death Country as both producer and musician.
Reunion and Roses (2009–2015)
The Cranberries reunited in January 2009 to celebrate O'Riordan becoming an Honorary Patron of University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin). The group indicated at the time that this did not signify an official reunion, but on 25 August 2009, in anticipation of the release of No Baggage, O'Riordan announced that the Cranberries would be reuniting for a North American and European tour. O'Riordan indicated that the band would be playing songs from her solo albums and a lot of the Cranberries' classic hits as well as some new group compositions.
The Cranberries reformed in 2012, from left to right: Fergal Lawler, Dolores O'Riordan, and Mike Hogan (Noel Hogan off camera)
The Cranberries recorded Roses at the Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Canada, from 18 April to 15 May 2011 with Stephen Street, who previously collaborated with the band on their first, second and fifth albums. The Cranberries worked on 15 tracks during the Roses session, although not all were included on the album. The album was released on 27 February 2012.
O'Riordan started legal proceedings against Noel Hogan in October 2013. The case was struck out in July 2015 and the cause was not divulged.
O'Riordan began recording new material with D.A.R.K. in April 2014.
O'Riordan's death, In the End and disbandment (2016–2019)
A new acoustic Cranberries album titled Something Else was released on 28 April 2017, through BMG. Something Else featured orchestral arrangements of prior releases, and three new songs.
With the release of the new album, the group announced a tour which was to include dates in Europe, parts of the UK, and North America. The shows were scheduled in smaller venues, with live orchestral accompaniment. However, in May 2017, shortly into the European tour, The Cranberries had to cancel the remainder of the European dates due to O'Riordan's health, with the band's website citing "medical reasons associated with a back problem". The North American tour dates were cancelled in July when her recovery had not progressed enough for her to participate.
On 15 January 2018, O'Riordan died unexpectedly in London, England. The inquest into her death was adjourned until 3 April while the coroner awaited the results of "various tests". On 6 September 2018, it was ruled that she had drowned in her hotel room's bathtub due to sedation by alcohol poisoning.
On 7 March 2018, the band announced they were releasing a special newly remastered 25th anniversary edition of their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We, with previously unreleased material as well as other bonus material from the time of the album. However, with O'Riordan's death it was delayed until 19 October 2018. The band also decided to complete their new album underway at the time O'Riordan died, for which she had already recorded the vocals. In September 2018, Noel Hogan confirmed the Cranberries would not be continuing as a band, and their final album will be called In the End stating: "We will do this album and then that will be it. No one wants to do this without Dolores... So there’s a song called 'In the End', it’s the last song on the album, and it just kind of summed up the whole album and the band. Because it’s definitely the end of it for us. So we’ve called it that." On 15 January 2019, one year after O'Riordan's death, the band released the first single from In the End, called "All Over Now".  The band released the single "Wake Me When It's Over" on 19 March 2019