Gwen Renée Stefani (/stəˈfɑːni/; born October 3, 1969) is an American singer, songwriter, fashion designer, and actress. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band No Doubt. During the band’s hiatus, Stefani embarked on her solo career, releasing her debut album Love. Angel. Music. Baby. in 2004. Inspired by music of the 1980s, the album was a success with sales of over seven million copies. It spawned three major hit singles: “What You Waiting For?,” “Rich Girl,” and “Hollaback Girl,” the latter becoming the first US digital download to sell one million copies. Stefani’s second studio album The Sweet Escape was released in 2006. The album produced two successful singles: “Wind It Up” and the album’s title track “The Sweet Escape.” Including her work with No Doubt, Stefani has sold more than thirty million albums worldwide.
As a solo artist, Stefani has won several music awards, including one Grammy Award, one World Music Award, one American Music Award, and one Brit Award. In 2003, she debuted her clothing line L.A.M.B. and expanded her collection with the 2005 Harajuku Lovers line, drawing inspiration from Japanese culture and fashion. Stefani performs and makes public appearances with four back-up dancers known as the Harajuku Girls. She married British musician Gavin Rossdale in 2002 and they have three sons. Billboard magazine ranked Stefani the fifty-fourth most successful artist and thirty-seventh most successful Hot 100 artist of the 2000–09 decade. VH1 ranked her thirteenth on their “100 Greatest Women in Music” list in 2012.
Gwen Stefani was born on October 3, 1969, in Fullerton, California, and raised in Anaheim, California. She was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and attended Loara High School in Anaheim, California. She was named after a stewardess in the 1968 novel Airport, and her middle name, Renée, comes from The Four Tops’ 1968 cover of The Left Banke’s 1966 hit song “Walk Away Renée”. Her father, Dennis Stefani, is Italian American and worked as a Yamaha marketing executive. Her mother, Patti (née Flynn), is of Irish, Scottish and Norwegian descent, and worked as an accountant before becoming a housewife. Gwen’s parents were fans of folk music and exposed her to music by artists like Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris. She is the second oldest of four children: she has a younger sister, Jill; a younger brother, Todd; and an older brother, Eric. Eric was the keyboardist for No Doubt, but left the band to pursue a career in animation on The Simpsons.
Many of the women in Stefani’s family were seamstresses, and much of her clothing was made by them or her mother. At school, she found written work challenging because of her dyslexia. As a child Stefani’s musical interests consisted of musicals such as The Sound of Music and Evita. After making a demo tape for her father, he advised she never take lessons, as it would ruin her unique style. Stefani made her onstage debut during a talent show at Loara High School, where she sang “I Have Confidence”, from The Sound of Music, in a self-made tweed dress inspired by one from the film. Stefani was on the Loara swim team in an attempt to lose weight. She first worked at a Dairy Queen and later staffed the MAC makeup counter of a department store. After graduating from high school in 1987, she began attending Fullerton College before transferring to California State University, Fullerton.
Soon after Stefani joined No Doubt, she and bandmate Tony Kanal began dating. Stefani stated that she was heavily invested in the relationship, commenting that “…all I ever did was look at Tony and pray that God would let me have a baby with him.” During this time, the band almost split up because of the failed romantic relationship between Stefani and Kanal. Kanal ended the relationship. Their break-up inspired Stefani lyrically, and many of the album’s songs, such as “Don’t Speak”, “Sunday Morning”, and “Hey You”, chronicle the ups and downs of their relationship.
During mid-1995, No Doubt and rock band Goo Goo Dolls went on tour opening for alternative rock band Bush. Stefani met Bush guitarist and lead singer Gavin Rossdale. They married on September 14, 2002, with a wedding in St Paul’s, Covent Garden, London. A second wedding was held in Los Angeles two weeks later. According to Stefani, it was held so that she could wear her custom-designed wedding dress by John Galliano twice.
A paternity test in 2004 revealed that Rossdale had a daughter, Daisy Lowe (who was fifteen years old then), from a previous relationship with model and designer Pearl Lowe. Stefani was “devastated and infuriated” at the discovery, leading to a rocky patch in her relationship with Rossdale. Rossdale remains Daisy’s godfather and has a somewhat friendly relationship with her. Stefani’s song “Danger Zone” was widely believed to be about the discovery and its aftermath, which has proven to be impossible because the song was written prior to the incident.
In December 2005, Stefani and Rossdale announced that they were expecting their first child together. Their son, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale, was born on May 26, 2006. The couple’s second son, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, was born on August 21, 2008. It was reported on September 5, 2013 that Stefani was expecting her third child with Rossdale. On February 28, 2014, Stefani gave birth to their third son, Apollo Bowie Flynn Rossdale. On August 3, 2015, Stefani filed for divorce from Rossdale, citing “irreconcilable differences”.
Forbes magazine reported Stefani’s earnings in 2008, calculating that she earned $27 million between June 2007 to June 2008 for her tour, fashion line and commercials, making her the world’s 10th highest paid music personality at the time