Gwen Stefani

  • Pop singer and songwriter born in 1969 from Fullerton California.
  • Gwen’s older brother Eric was a keyboardist who had an interest in ska music. Eric constantly played ska music from bands like Madness and Selector, and at age 17, Gwen fell in love with the sound. In 1986, Eric invited Gwen to be a backing vocalist in a ska band he was forming, named Apple Core. At the end of 1987, the other vocalist in the group committed suicide, leaving Gwen to handle all of the vocals for the band, now known as No Doubt. Gwen encouraged her bandmates to stay together despite the tragedy, and for several years they continued to perform at parties and local venues.
  • No Doubt was signed to a record deal in 1991, and a self-titled album was released the following year. It performed poorly, initially only selling 30,000 copies, as the ska sound was losing popularity to grunge music. A self funded second album was released in 1995. It was recorded in 1993 and 1994 – soon after it was completed, Eric left to work as an animator on the television show The Simpsons. Finally released in 1995, The Beacon Street Collection tripled the sales of their debut album, and their record company agreed to finance their next effort.
  • In October 1995, Tragic Kingdom was released. It contained several songs recorded before Eric left the band, as well as songs produced without Eric. Also after Eric’s departure, Gwen’s romantic relationship ended with No Doubt bass guitarist Tony Kanal – many songs on the album were inspired by their breakup. The album was a huge success. It topped the Billboard 200 album chart, and was certified diamond, with sales in the U.S. exceeding 10 million copies, driven by the singles Just A Girl, Spiderwebs and Don’t Speak. 
  • No Doubt released 2 albums in 2000 and 2001 – they sold well, both certified platinum, and several singles charted. Hey Baby and Underneath It All from the second album, Rock Steady, won 2 Grammy awards. The album showed the evolution of the group, as it started to move away from ska/reggae and more to electropop and dance music. In 2002, a Greatest Hits album was released, which included a cover of Talk Talk’s It’s My Life – the song was nominated for a Grammy, and it peaked at #10 on the Hot 100.  
  • As Stefani’s exposure as front woman for No Doubt increased, the music industry encouraged her to become a solo artist. She did a collaboration with hip hop artist Eve on the song Let Me Blow Ya Mind, which ultimately won a Grammy award. Her solo recording career began with the release of Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004. It was a hit, certified 7x platinum, with 6 singles charting, including Hollaback Girl topping the Hot 100, and Rich Girl peaking at #7. She received 5 Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year for Hollaback Girl and Album of the Year.
  • Stefani was interested in acting, and she auditioned for films starting in 2004. That year, she was given the role of Jean Harlow in the film The Aviator. She also started a fashion line, called L.A.M.B. (the initials of her debut album), a fragrance line, and an eyewear line.
  • A second solo album was released in 2006. Titled The Sweet Escape, the dance pop album reached #3 on the album chart, and sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. The song Wind It Up peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 chart, and the title track The Sweet Escape (featuring R&B/Hip Hop artist Akon) reached #2. While she was promoting the album, No Doubt began to write music for a new album, with Stefani to return to the group after the tour for The Sweet Escape ended, and after the birth of her second child. Recording for the album commenced in 2011, and in September 2012, Push and Shove was released. It was modestly successful – 1 single, Settle Down, reached #34 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Stefani became a coach on the TV competition show The Voice in 2014. She has been a coach in 4 seasons (including the current season), and an advisor in 2 other seasons.
  • In 2016, she released her third solo studio album – This Is What the Truth Feels Like – and the following year, she released a Christmas-themed album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, which contains some traditional Christmas songs as well as 6 original songs based on the Christmas season. She promoted the album with a Christmas TV special on network television. In 2018, she began a residency in Las Vegas that is scheduled to run through May 2020.
  • Gwen Stefani as a brand has racked up over $1 billion in sales – and that doesn’t include sales of her music. Suffice to say that she is a highly successful business woman – and an entertaining and talented artist. Here’s the video to The Sweet Escape – I couldn’t go with Hollaback Girl – while it’s her most popular song, I honestly can’t stand it.

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