No Doubt Biography

This Orange County, California, USA-based outfit, comprising Gwen Stefani (Gwendolyn Renee Stefani, 3 October 1969, Fullerton, California, USA; vocals), Tom Dumont (b. 11 January 1968, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar), Tony Kanal (b. 27 August 1970, London, England; bass) and Adrian Young (b. 26 August 1969, Long Beach, California, USA; drums), took America by storm in 1996 following the release of their third album, Tragic Kingdom.

Formed in December 1986 by Stefani’s keyboard playing brother Eric, the band’s original singer John Spence took his own life a year later. Kanal was part of the line-up by this point - Dumont joined in spring 1988 and Young a year later. The band signed a recording contract with Interscope Records in 1991. Their self-titled debut, released at the height of grunge’s popularity, sold poorly and Eric Stefani left the band two years later to work as an animator (landing a job with The Simpsons). In 1995, the band self-released the excellent The Beacon Street Collection, featuring material recorded over the previous two years, while continuing to work on their second major label album. Tragic Kingdom was released in October, but sales only began to pick up when the single ‘Just A Girl’ broke into the Top 30 on the back of constant radio play. The band ended 1996 at a peak with their album spending nine weeks at the top of the US album chart, and the power ballad ‘Don’t Speak’ all over the radio. As Gwen Stefani, very much the band’s focal point, confirmed to the press, their mid-90s success had taken everyone by surprise: ‘I can’t believe it’s happened to our loser band.’ Others thought the reason had more to do with the ‘fun punk’ of Green Day, Presidents Of The United States Of America and Rancid, which had lifted the gloom of grunge and established an audience for less ‘cerebral’ or ‘angst-ridden’ rock music. In February 1997, the ‘difficult’ UK market was breached in spectacular style. During a promotional visit to the UK the band was rewarded with the news that ‘Don’t Speak’ had entered the UK chart at number 1. A reissued ‘Just A Girl’ reached number 3 a few months later.

The media friendly Stefani kept the band’s name in the spotlight during a lengthy break from recording, in particular regarding her on/off romance with Bush singer Gavin Rossdale (the couple were finally married in September 2002 in London, England). A new single, ‘Ex-Girlfriend’, was released in February 2000 in advance of the laboured Return Of Saturn, the long awaited follow-up to Tragic Kingdom. Much better was the following year’s dancehall and new wave-influenced Rock Steady, featuring the transatlantic hit singles ‘Hey Baby’ and ‘Underneath It All’. The same year, Stefani teamed up with rapper Eve on the transatlantic hit single, ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’.

Despite No Doubt’s creative and commercial renaissance, Stefani’s growing interest in solo projects and acting work saw the band increasingly sidelined as the new millennium progressed. An interesting cover version of Talk Talk’s classic mid-80s hit ‘It’s My Life’ was released to promote 2003’s career-defining compilation set. During the following year, Stefani completed filming her role as Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. She also finished recording her solo debut, Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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