Gwen Stefani Biography

Gwen Stefani

 

Name: Gwen Stefani
Profession: Singer, Actress
Birth Date: October 3, 1969
Height: 5' 7"

Gwen Renée Stefani (born October 3, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, fashion designer and occasional actress. Stefani debuted 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 its third album Return of Saturn (2000), but Rock Steady (2001) introduced dancehall and reggae production into its music, which generally received positive reviews.

Stefani was born and raised in Fullerton, Calif., and grew up in a Roman Catholic household. Her mother named her Gwen after a stewardess in the best-selling 1968 novel Airport, and her middle name, Renée, comes from The Left Banke's 1968 song "Walk Away Renée." Her father, Dennis Stefani, is Italian-American and works as a Yamaha marketing executive. Her mother Patti Flynn is of Irish and Scottish descent and worked as an accountant before becoming a homemaker. She has a sister, Jill, and two brothers, Eric and Todd. Stefani was on the swim team at Loara High School and graduated in 1987. She then attended 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."

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.

Stefani met then-Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale at a No Doubt concert in 1995, and they became involved in a long distance relationship. They married in 2002, with a wedding in St Paul's Church in Covent Garden, London.

Career
At the invitation of her brother Eric, Stefani started to provide vocals for No Doubt in 1986. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1992, which was a commercial failure. 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 some of the album's songs, such as "Don't Speak," "Sunday Morning," and "Hey You," 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.

No Doubt released the less popular Return of Saturn in 2000, which expanded upon the New Wave influences of Tragic Kingdom. On the album, Stefani discusses her often rocky relationship with Rossdale and her overall insecurities, including indecision on settling down and having a child. The band's critically mixed 2001 album Rock Steady 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.

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
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 Kanal, Linda Perry, OutKast's André 3000, and The Neptunes. 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, new jack swing, and electro. 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 only reached number 47 in the U.S. but reached the top ten in most other charts. "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. "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. 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 UK and U.S. top 20. 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 released on December 4, 2006 outside North America and on December 5, 2006 in North America. Stefani recollaborated with Kanal, Perry, and the Neptunes along with Akon ("The Sweet Escape", on which he is featured) and Tim Rice-Oxley ("Early Winter"). The album focuses more heavily on dance music for clubs than its predecessor. Its release coincided with the DVD release of Stefani's first tour, entitled Harajuku Lovers Live.

To promote the album, Stefani was a mentor on the sixth season of "American Idol" and performed "The Sweet Escape" with Akon.

Other Projects
Stefani has created a fashion line, named L.A.M.B., which showcases clothing and accessories that she is often seen wearing herself. Kanal donated an x-ray of his broken finger as an image for L.A.M.B. t-shirts. In late 2006, Stefani released a limited edition line of dolls called "Love. Angel. Music. Baby. Fashion dolls." The dolls are inspired by the various costumes that Stefani and the Harajuku Girls wore while touring for the album. In June 2005, she expanded her collection with the less expensive Harajuku Lovers line, with varied products including a camera, baby clothes, mobile phone charms, and undergarments.

In 2004, Stefani showed interest in making film appearances and began auditioning for films such as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." She made her acting debut playing Jean Harlow in that year's Martin Scorsese movie "The Aviator." Stefani also 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.

Image
Stefani is often identified by her unique appearance. During No Doubt's breakthrough, Stefani appeared in the band's first three music videos wearing a bindi, a forehead decoration most common in Asia, and briefly popularized the accessory in 1997. First attracting attention in the "Just a Girl" music video, Stefani is known for her midriff and frequently wears shirts that expose it. Stefani's makeup design generally includes light face powder, bright red lipstick, and arched eyebrows, and she wrote a song titled "Magic's in the Makeup" about her makeup for No Doubt's Return of Saturn.

Stefani is a natural brunette, though her hair has not been its natural color since Stefani was in ninth grade. Since then, she has had platinum blonde hair. Stefani discussed this in the song "Platinum Blonde Life" on Rock Steady and played original blonde bombshell Jean Harlow in 2004. Stefani also dyed her hair blue in 1998 and pink in 2000, appearing on the cover of Return of Saturn with pink hair.

In 2006, Stefani modified her image, inspired by that of Elvira Hancock, a rich coke whore portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1983 film "Scarface." Stefani raised concerns in January 2007 about her rapid weight loss following her pregnancy. She stated she lost the weight through diet and exercise but admitted to obsessing over her weight due to the size zero trend. She later stated that she had been on a diet since the sixth grade to fit in size 4 clothing, commenting, "It's an ongoing battle and it's a nightmare. But I like clothes too much, and I always wanted to wear the outfits I would make."