Members: Gwen Stefani
Active: 1986 - present
Gwen Renee Stefani (born October 3, 1969) is an American pop, rock and dance singer, songwriter, fashion designer and occasional actress. Stefani made her debut in 1992 as the frontwoman of the third wave ska band No Doubt. The group's album Tragic Kingdom (1995) propelled them to stardom and sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide. It spawned the singles "Just a Girl", "Spiderwebs", and the airplay number-one "Don't Speak". The band's popularity went into decline with Return of Saturn (2000), but Rock Steady (2001) introduced reggae production into their music, which was generally well-received.
Stefani recorded her first solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004. The album contains pop and dance tracks and influence from hip hop and R&B. Its third single "Hollaback Girl" became the first U.S. digital download to exceed sales of one million and "Cool" was one of 2005's most popular radio singles. The Sweet Escape (2006), Stefani's second solo album, was preceded by the single "Wind It Up".
In the media Stefani is known as a fashion trendsetter and she debuted her clothing line L.A.M.B. in 2003. It includes many accessories as well as jackets and jeans and she is producing new material set for an early 2007 release.
Gwen Stefani was born in Fullerton, California, and grew up in nearby Anaheim. She was named after a stewardess in the best-selling 1968 novel Airport, which her mother read during her pregnancy; her middle name, Renee, was inspired by the song "Walk Away Ren?e". Her father, Dennis Stefani, is Italian American, and her mother Patti Flynn is of Irish and Scottish descent. She has a sister, Jill, and two brothers, Eric and Todd. Stefani attended Loara High School (class of 1987), where she was on the swim team and marching band, and California State University, Fullerton. Her first job was scrubbing floors at a Dairy Queen, and she once worked at the makeup counter of a department store. Her brother Eric was the keyboardist for No Doubt, but left the band to pursue a career in animation on The Simpsons. Other members of the group include Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, and drummer Adrian Young. Stefani had an eight-year relationship with Kanal, which was kept secret from the rest of the band for a while. Kanal ended the relationship because he said that he needed "space".
1986 - PRESENT: NO DOUBT
No Doubt's third album Tragic Kingdom (1995), which followed the self-titled No Doubt (1992) and The Beacon Street Collection (1995), took more than three years to make. During this time, the band almost disbanded because of the romantic relationship between Stefani and Kanal. Their break-up inspired Stefani lyrically and some of the album's songs such as "Happy Now?" chronicled 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. The album sold more than fifteen million copies worldwide and received several Grammy Award nominations.
Stefani met then-Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale in 1995 at a No Doubt concert, and they became involved in a long distance relationship. After the success of Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt released the less popular Return of Saturn (2000) and the critically-mixed Rock Steady (2001), which 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 (2003), which includes a cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life", was released to moderate sales. The other members of No Doubt have begun work on a new album and plan to complete it after Stefani's tour is finished.
During her time with No Doubt, the band toured with ska punk band Reel Big Fish, whose frontman, Aaron Barrett, later penned the song "She's Famous Now" for Reel Big Fish's 1998 album Why Do They Rock So Hard?. The song commonly interpreted to be about a relationship between the two and Stefani's subsequent success with No Doubt;however, Barrett later stated that he "was just trying to start a rumor".
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 "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind".
2004 - 2006 LOVE. ANGEL. MUSIC. BABY
Stefani's debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. was released in November 2004 across the world. The album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart at number seven, selling more than 310,000 copies in its first week. In early 2005 it peaked at number five in the U.S., number three in Canada and number one in Australia. It had major success in Mexico, where it became the highest-selling English album for more than a month and peaked at number two for several weeks.
Stefani collaborated with singer-songwriter Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes on the album, along with The Neptunes, OutKast's Andr? 3000, and Dallas Austin among others. The first single released from the album was "What You Waiting For?", which was a top twenty success across Asia, Australia and Europe, but was less successful in North America.
"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 and Michie One, which itself is a cover of "If I Were a Rich Man", from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. "Rich Girl" proved successful on several formats, and reached the UK and U.S. top ten. Love. Angel. Music. Baby.'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. Its lyrical content features the word "shit" thirty-seven times.
The fourth single "Cool" was released shortly following the popularity of its predecessor, but failed to match its chart success, reaching the UK and U.S. top twenty. However, "Cool" was Stefani's first Canadian number-one single. The song's music video, filmed in Lake Como, Italy, depicts Stefani's former relationship with No Doubt bass guitarist Tony Kanal. The song's music video shows Stefani paying homage to her Italian heritage as well as the 1950s bombshells. "Luxurious" was released as the album's fifth single, but did not perform as well as its predecessors. "Crash" was released in early 2006 in lieu of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.'s sequel, which Stefani postponed because of her pregnancy.
Stefani received five 2005 Grammy Award nominations for "Album of the Year", "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance", "Best Pop Vocal Album", "Record of the Year" and "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration".
The release of Stefani's first solo album brought attention to her entourage of four Harajuku Girls. They were named for the area around the Harajuku Station of Tokyo, Japan, known as a popular shopping destination and fashion center for teenagers. Following the style of their namesake area, Stefani's Harajuku Girls are usually flamboyantly dressed (sometimes in a somewhat "Gothic Lolita" style). They were featured in her music videos, press coverage and on the album cover for Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and have a song dedicated to them on the album. They were also featured in, and the namesake for, Stefani's successful Harajuku Lovers Tour 2005. However, Stefani's adoption of this Japanese culture component drew criticism from Mihi Ahn of Salon.com, who commented, "she's swallowed a subversive youth culture in Japan and barfed up another image of submissive giggling Asian women".
According to the Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Blender magazine, stand-up comic Margaret Cho has labeled the Harajuku Girls as a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women. The Harajuku Girls have since continued to appear alongside Stefani within the media, and are featured in the music video for "Wind It Up" (2006).
2006 - PRESENT: THE SWEET ESCAPE
Stefani's second solo album The Sweet Escape (2006) was released on December 4, 2006 outside North America and on December 5, 2006 in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Stefani recollaborated with Tony Kanal, Linda Perry and the Neptunes on some tracks and also worked with Akon ("The Sweet Escape", on which he is featured) and Tim Rice-Oxley ("Early Winter"). The album includes twelve songs and its release coincided with the DVD release of Stefani's first tour, entitled Harajuku Lovers Live. It is available in two versions: edited and explicit. The album received mixed reviews by critics, who said that the album "has a surprisingly moody, lightly autobiographical feel...[but] Stefani isn't convincing as a dissatisfied diva"and called the album a "hasty return" that does "the same thing she did last time, except it's not as much fun".
Along with the announcement of her upcoming album and DVD release in late 2006, Stefani announced on her official website that she will be embarking on the international Sweet Escape Tour starting in April 2007. This tour will visit North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Stefani has created a successful fashion line, named L.A.M.B., which showcases clothing that she is often seen wearing herself (it also features handbags and purses). No Doubt bassist (and former boyfriend) Tony Kanal donated an X-Ray of his broken finger as an image for L.A.M.B T-shirts. In the fall of 2006, Gwen Stefani released a limited edition line of dolls called "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Fashion dolls". They were inspired by her multi-platinum album and tour and each doll will reflect Gwen's eclectic onstage incarnations. Ranging from her Hollaback Girl to the fashion-forward Harajuku Girls of Tokyo, the dolls in this high-end line will reflect the distinctive style and personality which have made Gwen Stefani an icon. She also designed and promoted a Harajuku girl-themed camera for Hewlett-Packard.
Stefani made her acting debut playing Jean Harlow in the 2004 Martin Scorsese movie The Aviator and made a cameo appearance in the film Zoolander. Stefani lent her voice to the title character of Malice, a PS2 and Xbox video game; before completion, however, the company opted not to use No Doubt band-members' voices.
Stefani is not set to appear in any forthcoming films in the near future.
2004 - Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
2006 - The Sweet Escape