Gwen Stefani was born in Fullerton, California, but grew up in Anaheim. 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. Jill appeared in No Doubt's "Just A Girl" music video. Stefani attended California State University, Fullerton, and Loara High School (class of 1987), where she was on the swim team. Her first job was scrubbing floors at a Dairy Queen, and she once worked at a department store. Her brother Eric was the keyboardist for No Doubt, but eventually 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.
1986-present: No Doubt
The band's third album, following their eponymous debut No Doubt (1992) and The Beacon Street Collection (1995), Tragic Kingdom, took three years to make. During this time, the band almost split up due to the break up of Kanal and Stefani. However, this was to become a major inspiration for Stefani lyrically. The album was released in 1995 and spawned several hits, beginning with "Just a Girl". Following the success of Tragic Kingdom, Stefani became highly popular and recognizable. The tension this produced with the other members of the band was touched upon in their video for the song "Don't Speak". Stefani met Bush and now Institute frontman Gavin Rossdale in 1995 at a concert in which she was performing to promote Tragic Kingdom. The release of The Singles 1992-2003, a CD with the band's best hits, and Everything in Time: B-sides, Remixes and Rarities prompted media speculation about a break-up, which the band denied in later interviews.
Outside of No Doubt Stefani has collaborated with other artists, most notably for the singles "Southside" and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" with Moby and Eve respectively. In 2002, Eve and Stefani won a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Let Me Blow Ya Mind."
2004-present: Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Stefani's debut solo album, "Love. Angel. Music. Baby.," was released on November 22, 2004 in Europe and Asia and on November 23, 2004 in North America. Stefani's debut sold more copies in its first week (310,000) than any No Doubt album ever had in the United States. The album peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 and at number five on the Canadian albums chart; it reached number four in the UK and number one in Australia. Stefani had collaborated with singer-songwriter Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes on the album, along with Pharrell Williams and AndrÃ© 3000, Wendy & Lisa among others.
"Rich Girl" was released as the second single from the album; it is a duet with rapper Eve, and produced by Dr. Dre. "Rich Girl" is an adaptation of a 1990s pop song by British reggae musicians Louchie Lou and Michie, which itself is partly a cover of the song "If I Were A Rich Man" from the musical Fiddler on the Roof, written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.
The third single taken from Love. Angel. Music. Baby., "Hollaback Girl" became Stefani's first North American and second Australian number-one single; it peaked at number eight in the United Kingdom. The song became the first U.S. digital download to surpass sales of one million. The fourth single "Cool" was released on July 5, 2005 in North America and August 22, 2005 elsewhere in the world, becoming a substantial hit but did not match the chart success of its predecessor. It reached the top twenty in the U.S. and UK, the top ten in Australia and number one in Canada. The music video for "Cool," filmed in Lake Como, Italy, shows Stefani paying homage to her Italian heritage as well as 1950s bombshells Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Sophia Loren, and Brigitte Bardot.
"Luxurious" became the fifth single release from Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and her sixth single "Crash" was released in early 2006 in lieu of the production of L.A.M.B.'s sequel, which Stefani postponed because of her pregnancy.
Gwen Stefani received five Grammy award nominations on December 8, 2005. She was nominated in the following categories: Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Stefani did not receive any awards at the Grammys on February 8, 2006.
Though Stefani has had an extremely successful solo career with her album Love.Angel.Music.Baby., she plans on recording with No Doubt in 2006, although recording may be halted due to her pregnancy.
It's been reported that the remaining members of No Doubt have gone back into the studio in mid-March and that bandmate Tony Kanal has already penned some new songs.
The release of her solo album has also brought attention to Stefani's entourage of four Harajuku Girls. Named Love, Angel, Music, and Baby by Stefani, the Harajuku girls are 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 have been featured in her music videos and press coverage and on the album cover for Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and have a song dedicated to them on the album. However, Stefani's adoption of this component of Japanese culture drew criticism from Mihi Ahn at Salon.com, and others who feel that Stefani has stripped Japanese street fashion of its authenticity and created yet another example of the 'submissive Asian female' stereotype. Wrote Ahn,
Stefani has taken the idea of Japanese street fashion and turned these women into modern-day geisha, contractually obligated to speak only Japanese in public, even though it's rumored they're just plain old Americans and their English is just fine... 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 labelled the Harajuku Girls as a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women.
Stefani and her husband Gavin Rossdale announced in December 2005 they are expecting their first child together. The baby is said to be due in late May or early June of 2006. She has been seen shopping for baby clothes in neutral colors, because she and Rossdale don't want to know the sex of their baby until he or she is born in June. Despite this fact, Stefani and Rossdale announced in April 2006 that their baby is a girl, further substantiated by Stefani's pink-themed baby shower.