No Doubt

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About No Doubt

The No Doubt story is a whirlwind saga of revolving-door personnel, intra-band romances, and tragedy—and that was all before the Anaheim group released their first album. Founded by singer John Spence and keyboardist Eric Stefani in 1986, No Doubt started out as a nine-piece ensemble carrying the torch for upbeat 2 Tone ska in a SoCal scene dominated by hardcore brutes—and, as such, it would take nearly a decade for the group to break out of the punk trenches. Following Spence’s suicide in 1987, lead-singing duties eventually fell to the group’s backing vocalist—Stefani’s sister, Gwen—as a pared-down lineup solidified around guitarist Tom DuMont, drummer Adrian Young, and bassist Tony Kanal (Gwen’s boyfriend at the time). While No Doubt’s sleek self-titled 1992 debut failed to connect in the era of peak grunge, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom, recorded just before Eric left the band, couldn’t have been better timed. MTV hits like “Spiderwebs” and “Sunday Morning” added a sassy ska energy to the moshable pop-punk that Green Day had popularised at the time—heralding a new wave of brass-toting pogoists—while the restless anti-patriarchal anthem “Just a Girl” introduced a pop-friendlier brand of feminism to the post-riot-grrrl era. But the album’s stirring centrepiece ballad “Don’t Speak”, written in the aftermath of Gwen’s break-up with Kanal, anticipated the singer’s transformation into a Madonna-esque pop polymath. No Doubt continued to drift away from their ska-punk roots, culminating in the dance-club-courting bangers of 2001’s Rock Steady, effectively a test run for Gwen’s imminent solo reign as America’s premier hollaback girl. But while her ascent to the celebrity A-list put No Doubt on pause for the better part of a decade, 2012’s Push and Shove—featuring contributions from Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and EDM giants Major Lazer—cemented their status as pioneers of the genre-mashing, post-everything modern-pop age.

Anaheim, CA, United States
December 1986
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