Also Credited As:Gwen Renée Stefani
|Gwen Renée Stefani on October 3, 1969 in Anaheim, California, USA|
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Gwen Renée Stefani was born on Oct. 3, 1969 in Fullerton, CA. As a teenager, she started experimenting with fashion by sewing her own clothes. Her first stage appearance was at a school talent show, wearing a self-made dress inspired by a tweed dress that Maria (Julie Andrews) wore in the classic film "The Sound of Music" (1965). While she was into the arts and music, Stefani never dreamed of being a rock star; instead, she wanted to be a homemaker like her mother. That all changed after her older brother, Eric, formed a ska-flavored band called No Doubt and urged her to join as second vocalist. In December 1987, Stefani took over lead vocals after the band's lead singer, John Spence, took his own life. When she was not performing, she was a coed at California State University, Fullerton. In 1992, No Doubt released their debut album, but it was not until their third, Tragic Kingdom (1995), that the band found mainstream success. Three years in the making, the album also featured several songs, such as "Don't Speak" and "Sunday Morning," that chronicled Stefani's break-up with the band's bassist, Tony Kanal, whom she dated for seven years.
Spurred on by the ballad "Don't Speak" and the infectious "Spiderwebs" and "Just a Girl," the album sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. It also earned several Grammy nominations in 1997. Almost overnight, Stefani and No Doubt's pop-ska infused sound exploded into the rock stratosphere. Her image - platinum-blonde hair, red lips, and glamorous yet punk vibe - graced several magazine covers and was emulated by millions of women of all ages. Stefani even made it cool to wear a bindi, a forehead decoration that she wore when she dated Kanal, who was of Indian heritage. In 2000, No Doubt released the album Return of Saturn, which maintained the New Wave and pop-ska influences of their previous album, but was slightly less successful on the charts. Like Tragic Kingdom, Return of Saturn also featured songs inspired by Stefani's love life, mostly about her troubled relationship with the British rocker, Gavin Rossdale, at that time, the lead singer of the rock band, Bush. No Doubt's follow-up album, 2001's Rock Steady, featured the hit single "Hella Good" and the Grammy-winning song "Hey Baby," which highlighted the band's experimentation with reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall sounds. No Doubt kept the momentum going with its 2003 greatest hits collection, The Singles 1992-2003, which included a cover of the 1984 synth-pop hit single, "It's My Life" by Talk Talk. While No Doubt enjoyed mainstream success, Stefani collaborated with many artists on her own, including electronic artist Moby on "South Side" (1999) and hip-hop star Eve on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" (2001).
Through her songs, Stefani made her personal life an open book. In the mid-1990s, Stefani had started dating Rossdale, whom she had met while on a 27-month worldwide tour. The couple had a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. The couple eventually married to much pomp and circumstance on Sept. 14, 2002 in London; two weeks later, they threw another wedding ceremony in Los Angeles. It was no secret that the couple went through rocky patches in their relationship. In 2004, a paternity test revealed that Rossdale was the father of model Daisy Lowe, whose mother, Pearl Lowe, the rocker had briefly dated when he was in his teens. Stefani was reportedly devastated when she was informed, but the couple worked through the very public affair and even started a family. In 2006, Stefani gave birth to their firstborn son, Kingston Rossdale. Their second son, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, was born in 2008. The couple's marriage appeared to be back on track, until another shocking revelation about Rossdale surfaced in 2010. After years of speculation, Rossdale finally admitted to having a relationship with the cross-dressing singer, Marilyn, when he was just 17. The news rocked Stefani's marriage once again, but as in previous times, the couple stayed together.
While Stefani dealt with her marital ups-and-downs, she found time to enjoy a successful solo career, as well as start her own fashion empire. In 2003, she launched her handbag line L.A.M.B. (Love Angel Music Baby) for LeSportsac, which expanded to include a full line of clothing that reflected her modern-retro style, shoes, limited-edition dolls, and perfume. Her second fashion line, Harajuku Lovers, was inspired by the eclectic street fashions of the Harajuku area of Tokyo, Japan. Stefani's debut solo album, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (2004), sold over seven million copies worldwide. Drawing inspiration from various 1980s-era music genres like electro-pop and dance-punk, the album yielded several hit singles including "Rich Girl," "What You Waiting For," and "Hollaback Girl," which was reportedly Stefani's response to a snide comment made by grunge singer Courtney Love that referred to Stefani as a cheerleader. The album also introduced the Harajuku Girls, four young and trendy Japanese women who were featured in Stefani's shows and music videos, as well as acted as her entourage during public appearances. Stefani's second solo album, The Sweet Escape (2006), peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and featured her yodeling to a sample beat from the soundtrack of the film "The Sound of Music" in the single "Wind It Up." The fashion maven even dabbled in acting, with a small role as the platinum-haired, 1930s-era sex symbol, Jean Harlow, in Martin Scorsese's biopic, "The Aviator" (2004), about aviation pioneer and reclusive billionaire, Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio). She also guest starred as a singer on the hit drama "Gossip Girl" (The CW, 2007- ). In March 2011, Stefani made headlines after she donated $1 million to help with the relief and recovery efforts in earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan. The singer also encouraged her fans to do their part and purchase a limited edition Harajuku Lovers T-shirt, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the relief effort.