Gwen Renée Stefani, born October 3,
1969) is an American singer and fashion designer. Stefani is the lead
vocalist for the rock band No Doubt. With previous material ranging from
punk rock to new wave music, their third wave ska oriented third studio
album Tragic Kingdom (1995) was a success, selling 16 million copies. It
spawned the singles "Just a Girl", "Spiderwebs", and "Don't Speak". The
band's popularity went into decline with its fourth album, Return of
Saturn (2000), but Rock Steady (2001) focused on dancehall production
traits, and generally received positive reviews.
Stefani recorded her first solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004.
The album was primarily inspired by music of the 1980s, and emerged a
success with sales of seven million. The album's third single "Hollaback
Girl" was the first U.S. digital download to sell one million copies.
Stefani's second solo album The Sweet Escape (2006) yielded "Wind It Up",
a moderate success, and "The Sweet Escape". Including her work with No
Doubt, Stefani has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. She won the
World's Best-Selling New Female Artist at the World Music Awards 2005.
In 2003, she debuted her clothing line L.A.M.B. and expanded her
collection with the 2005 Harajuku Lovers line, drawing inspiration from
Japanese culture and fashion. Stefani performs and makes public
appearances with four back-up dancers known as the Harajuku Girls dancers.
She married British grunge musician Gavin Rossdale in 2002 and they have
two sons: Kingston James McGregor Rossdale, who was born May 26, 2006, and
Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, who was born August 20, 2008.
Billboard named Gwen Stefani 37th Hot 100 artist of the decade.
Stefani was born and raised in Fullerton, California, and grew up in a
Roman Catholic household. Her mother named her after a stewardess in the
1968 novel Airport, and her middle name, Renée, comes from The Four Tops'
1968 cover of The Left Banke's 1966 hit song "Walk Away Renée". Her
father, Dennis Stefani, is Italian and worked as a Yamaha marketing
executive. He currently is Executive VP of The Added Value Company. Her
mother, Patti (née Flynn), is of Irish and Scottish descent and worked as
an accountant before becoming a homemaker. Her parents were fans of folk
music and presented music by Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris to their
daughter. She is the second oldest of four children; she has a younger
sister, Jill Stefani, a younger brother, Todd, and an older brother, Eric.
Eric was the keyboardist for No Doubt but left the band to pursue a career
in animation on The Simpsons on the FOX TV network.
Many of the women in Stefani's family were seamstresses, and much of her
clothing was made by her or her mother. As a child, Stefani's musical
interests consisted of musicals such as The Sound of Music and Evita.
After making a demo tape for her father, she was encouraged to take music
lessons to train her "loopy, unpredictable" voice.
Stefani made her onstage debut during a talent show at Loara High School,
where she sang "I Have Confidence," from The Sound of Music, in a
self-made tweed dress inspired by one from the film. Stefani was on the
Loara swim team in an attempt to lose weight. She first worked at a Dairy
Queen and later manned the MAC makeup counter of a department store. After
graduating from high school in 1987, she began attending Fullerton College
before transferring to California State University, Fullerton.
No Doubt (1986–2004)
Eric introduced Gwen to 2 Tone music by Madness and The Selecter, and in
1986 he invited her to provide vocals for No Doubt, a ska band he was
forming. Finally, in 1991, the band was signed to Interscope Records. She
also did backup vocals for Sublime on the song "Saw Red", notably before
either No Doubt's breakthrough success in 1995 or Sublime's the following
The band released its self-titled debut album in 1992, but its ska-pop
sound was unsuccessful due to the popularity of grunge. Stefani rejected
the aggressiveness of female grunge artists and cited Blondie singer
Debbie Harry's combination of power and sex appeal as a major influence.
No Doubt's third album, Tragic Kingdom (1995), which followed the
self-released The Beacon Street Collection (1995), took more than three
years to make. During this time, the band almost split up because of the
failed romantic relationship between Stefani and bandmate Tony Kanal.
Their break-up inspired Stefani lyrically, and many of the album's songs,
such as "Don't Speak", "Sunday Morning", and "Hey You", chronicle their
relationship and her happiness. Five singles were released from Tragic
Kingdom and "Don't Speak" led 1996's U.S. year-end airplay chart. Stefani
left college for one semester to tour for Tragic Kingdom but did not
return when touring lasted two and a half years. The album sold more than
16 million copies worldwide, and received several Grammy Award
No Doubt released the less popular Return of Saturn in 2000, which expands
upon the New Wave influences of Tragic Kingdom. Most of the lyrical
content focuses on Stefani's often rocky relationship with then-Bush
frontman Gavin Rossdale and her overall insecurities, including indecision
on settling down and having a child. The band's 2001 album, Rock Steady,
explores more reggae and dancehall sounds while maintaining the band's New
Wave influences, generally receiving positive reviews., which was recorded
live by Guy Charbonneau (audio recording engineer)'s Le Mobile Remote
Recording Studio and later released on CD and DVD formats. The album
generated career-highest singles chart positions in the United States, and
"Hey Baby" and "Underneath It All" received Grammy Awards. A greatest hits
collection, The Singles 1992–2003, which includes a cover of Talk Talk's
"It's My Life", was released in 2003 to moderate sales.
Outside No Doubt, Stefani has collaborated on the singles "South Side" and
"Let Me Blow Ya Mind" with Moby and Eve, respectively. In 2002 Eve and
Stefani won a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Let Me
Blow Ya Mind". She also collaborated with The Brian Setzer Orchestra on a
cover of "You're the Boss", originally performed by Elvis Presley and
Ann-Margret, for its 1998 album The Dirty Boogie.
Solo career (2004–2008)
Following No Doubt's hiatus, Stefani sought out her former bandmate Tony
Kanal to discuss the possibility of a solo career. The idea was to make a
quick dance record, but this became a large collaboration with other
artists, producers and various non-ska influences. The result was two
successful albums. Currently, Stefani has two solo albums, Love. Angel.
Music. Baby. (2004), and The Sweet Escape (2006).
Stefani's debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. was released in
November 2004. The album features a large number of collaborations with
producers and other artists, including Tony Kanal, Linda Perry, André
3000, Nellee Hooper, The Neptunes and New Order. Stefani created the album
to modernize the music to which she listened when in high school, and
L.A.M.B. takes influence from a variety of music styles of the 1980s and
early 1990s such as New Wave and electro. Stefani's decision to use her
solo career as an opportunity to delve further into pop music instead of
trying "to convince the world of [her] talent, depth and artistic worth"
was considered unusual. As a result, reviews of the album were mixed, and
it was described as "fun as hell but…not exactly rife with subversive
social commentary." The album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums
chart at number seven, selling 309,000 copies in its first week. It sold
well, reaching multi-platinum status in the United States, the United
Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, Stefani was
nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and at the next year's
awards, Stefani received five nominations for Record of the Year, Album of
the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, and
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
The first single released from the album was "What You Waiting For?",
which charted outside the U.S. Top 40, but reached the Top 10 on most
other charts. The song served to explain why Stefani produced a solo album
and discusses her fears in leaving No Doubt for a solo career as well as
her desire to have a baby. "Rich Girl" was released as the album's second
single. A duet with rapper Eve, and produced by Dr. Dre, it is an
adaptation of a 1990s pop song by British musicians Louchie Lou & Michie
One, which itself is a cover of "If I Were a Rich Man", from the musical
Fiddler on the Roof. "Rich Girl" proved successful on several formats, and
reached the UK and U.S. top ten. L.A.M.B.'s third single "Hollaback Girl"
became Stefani's first U.S. and second Australian number-one single; it
was less successful elsewhere. The song was the first U.S. digital
download to sell more than one million copies legally, and its
brass-driven composition remained popular throughout 2005.
The fourth single "Cool" was released shortly following the popularity of
its predecessor, but failed to match its chart success, reaching the top
twenty in UK and U.S. The song's lyrics and its accompanying music video,
filmed in Lake Como, Italy, depict Stefani's former relationship with
Kanal. "Luxurious" was released as the album's fifth single, but did not
perform as well as its predecessors. "Crash" was released in early 2006 as
the album's sixth single in lieu of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.'s sequel,
which Stefani postponed because of her pregnancy.
Stefani's second solo album, The Sweet Escape, was recorded by Guy
Charbonneau's Le Mobile Remote Recording Studio and released in December
2006. Stefani recollaborated with Kanal, Perry, and The Neptunes, along
with Akon and Tim Rice-Oxley from English rock band Keane. The album
focuses more heavily on electro/dance music for clubs than its
predecessor. Stefani commented that it differed from L.A.M.B. because "I
just wasn't inspired to do another album and…I was a lot more relaxed
making it." Its release coincided with the DVD release of Stefani's first
tour, entitled Harajuku Lovers Live. The album received mixed reviews by
critics, who found that it "has a surprisingly moody, lightly
autobiographical feel...[but] Stefani isn't convincing as a dissatisfied
diva" and called the album a "hasty return" that repeats Love. Angel.
Music. Baby. with less energy.
"Wind It Up", the album's lead single, was panned by critics for its use
of yodeling and an interpolation of The Sound of Music but was moderately
successful, reaching the Top 20 in most markets. The title track was
well-received. To promote The Sweet Escape, Stefani was a mentor on the
sixth season of American Idol and performed the song with Akon. It was an
international success and earned Stefani a Grammy nomination. The song is
Stefani's most successful song of her solo career. In November 2006, the
club single "Yummy" was released as a 3-track maxi promo single and as a
12" vinyl single, both featuring a radio edit, an instrumental and an a
cappella version of the song. "4 In The Morning" was released as the
album's third single with mediocre success. The album's fourth single was
a hybrid version of Now That You Got It which featured Damian Marley. The
song was a commercial failure and became her first solo single to fail to
chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Early Winter was released in February 2008
worldwide with initial success on European Charts. To promote the album,
Stefani embarked a worldwide tour, The Sweet Escape Tour. The tour covered
North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific and part of Latin America.
No Doubt reunion (2008–present)
With Stefani promoting her second solo album, No Doubt began initial work
on a new album without her and planned to complete it after Stefani's tour
was finished. In March 2008, the band started making posts concerning the
progression of the album on their official fan forum. Stefani made a post
on March 28, 2008 stating that songwriting had commenced but was slow on
her end because she was, at the time, pregnant with her second child.
Manager Jim Guerinot said the yet-untitled album is being produced by Mark
"Spike" Stent, who helped produce and mix Rock Steady. Between Stefani's
pregnancy and recording, No Doubt did not tour in 2008, but Guerinot
promised they plan to hit the road hard in 2009 for their first
full-fledged band tour in nearly five years.
"The Singles 92-03" became available on December 9, 2008 for the Rock Band
2 video game platform. All members of No Doubt except for Stefani are
appearing as Scott Weiland's backing band on the album Happy In Galoshes.
No Doubt announced on their official website that they want to tour in
2009 while finishing their upcoming album, which is set for release late
2009. On November 24, 2008, it was announced that No Doubt would be
headlining the Bamboozle 2009 festival in May, along with Fall Out Boy.
The band completed a national tour in the summer of 2009.
Stefani has stated she has no plans to continue her solo career, and will
just focus on No Doubt from now on.
Soon after Stefani joined No Doubt, she and bandmate Tony Kanal began
dating. Stefani stated that she was heavily invested in the relationship,
commenting that "...all I ever did was look at Tony and pray that God
would let me have a baby with him." Kanal ended the relationship.
During her time with No Doubt, the band toured with fellow ska punk band
Reel Big Fish, whose frontman, Aaron Barrett, later wrote the song "She's
Famous Now" for their 1998 album Why Do They Rock So Hard?. The song is
commonly interpreted to be about a relationship between the two and
Stefani's subsequent success with No Doubt. Barrett later stated that he
"was just trying to start a rumor".
In December 1995, No Doubt and rock band Goo Goo Dolls went on tour
opening for alternative rock band Bush. Stefani met Bush guitarist and
lead singer Gavin Rossdale They married on September 14, 2002, with a
wedding in St Paul's Church in Covent Garden, London. A second wedding was
held in Los Angeles two weeks later. According to Stefani, it was held so
that she could wear her custom-designed wedding dress designed by John
A paternity test in 2004 revealed that Rossdale had a daughter, Daisy Lowe
(b. 1989), from a previous relationship with model and designer Pearl
Lowe. Stefani was "devastated and infuriated" at the discovery, leading to
a rocky patch in her relationship with Rossdale. Though Rossdale remains
Daisy's godfather, he has severed all ties with the Lowes. Stefani's song
"Danger Zone" was widely believed to be about the discovery and its
aftermath. However, the song was written prior to the incident.
In December 2005, Stefani and Rossdale announced that they were expecting
their first child together. The pregnancy was first reported by Us Weekly,
and Stefani confirmed the pregnancy by shouting "I want you to sing so
loud that the baby hears it" during a concert in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
after her press agent stated that it was untrue. On May 26, 2006, their
son, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale, was born via caesarean section at
the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Kingston weighed 3.4 kg (7
lb 8 oz). In January 2008, it was confirmed by her father-in-law that
Stefani would be expecting her second child. As of the date of
announcement, she was 13 weeks along. Reports from In Touch magazine came
in on August 21, 2008, reporting that Stefani had checked in Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center in Los Angeles, and was scheduled to give birth via
C-section around 10:00 a.m. People confirmed that Stefani gave birth to
her second son, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, on August 21, 2008 weighing 3.85
kg (8 lb 8 oz). A representative for Stefani said "Mother, baby and family
are all happy and healthy."