Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
Stefani’s family was instrumental to her music career, with her parents introducing her to music and brother Eric forming the band No Doubt, which would later make her famous. Stefani’s parents were folk-music fans and she was taken to Emmylou Harris concerts and introduced to the music of Bob Dylan as a child. Musicals such as ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Annie’ and ‘Evita’ were also influences, with Stefani’s first foray into public performance being a rendition of the song ‘I Have Confidence’ from ‘The Sound of Music’ at her high school talent show.At Loara High School, Stefani was on the swimming team while working part-time jobs at Dairy Queen and on the make-up counter of a department store. After graduating, she attended California State University in Fullerton.
Older brother Eric introduced Stefani to two-tone Ska music while she was still at high school through bands such as Madness and The Selecter. When he formed his own Ska band in 1986 with friend John Spence, he asked his sister to join as co-lead singer. She became the sole lead singer of the fledgling band after Spence committed suicide in 1987, with the other band members later crediting her as the glue that held the band together through the difficult time.
In 1987, Stefani also began a relationship with bass-player Kanal. She had had a crush on him since he joined the band, but he initially rejected her to promote band-harmony. Stefani persisted and the pair’s relationship eventually lasted for seven years. Stefani admitted to interviewers that her role in the band was passive to begin with. “My brother did everything. I was like, ‘I’m just the sister.’ And then after that I was ‘Tony’s girlfriend.’ And that was good enough for me. I never really had any ambitions or goals or dreams.”
The band had limited success to start with and remained little more than a garage band until the early 1990s.
Grunge was growing in popularity at the time and No Doubt’s ska-pop sound did not fit in with the movement. Stefani opted for sexiness instead of the aggressive grunge female lead typified by singers like Hole’s Courtney Love. The band continued playing though, touring with ska punk band Reel Big Fish and gathering a loyal following in Southern California, and in 1990 it was signed to Interscope Record.
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