Gwen Stefani and No Doubt rocked our worlds back in the 1990s, but how much do you know about the band’s history? Well, Stefani recently reminded us of one of the band’s most talented singers and founding members – John Spence.
Gwen Stefani honored the memory of Spence, who was one of No Doubt‘s founding members, in a touching Instagram post 35 years after his untimely death.
John Spence Was One Of No Doubt’s Founding Members
John Spence was one of the original band members and the original lead singer of the Anaheim, Calif., group. That was the time when Stefani still provided backing vocals. Then, shortly after, No Doubt was born in 1986 when the band formed its first version.
In 1996, Stefani said that this was an instant hit. She explained,
“For some reason, there was automatically this built-in following. […] People loved the fact that it was a girl, that it was 2-Tone, that it was me and John up there.”
But sadly, Spence died by suicide only one year later after this band reformation at the young age of 18. His tragic death shook No Doubt forever and left a huge mark on the music world.
In a recent Instagram post, Gwen Stefani wrote: “Remembering John Spence today, and always.” She also added six personal and deeply emotional pictures, including a black-and-white photo of them together. She also shared other performance shots and one photo of Spence’s school yearbook photo.
Spence was one of the founding band members who formed No Doubt with Gwen Stefani and her brother Eric Stefani. It goes without saying that his death shook Stefani’s family to the core. As they said back in the day, they never saw it coming. Stefani told the OC Register:
“I guess I didn’t really know him. He was hurting so badly that he couldn’t talk to anyone about it.”
Another interesting fact about Spence is that he was the one who came up with the band’s unique name. Reportedly, it was his trademark response that inspired him. It was short and sweet: “no doubt.”
How Gwen Stefani Became No Doubt’s Leading Singer
His untimely death changed everything. Spence took his own life two days before No Doubt was supposed to perform at The Roxy in Hollywood around Christmas time. When he died, the band fell apart but then they reformed with Alan Meade temporarily taking over lead vocals.
Spence became the inspiration for the whole band. They went on to write songs about him, such as “Dear John,” which was never officially released by the band.
The lyrics to the song are touching and heartbreaking, to say the least:
You’re singin’ in a band with a mic on in your hand / That way that you would sing really made me feel all grand / You left your friends alone right upon this earth / I wish that would’ve seen how much life was worth
After Spence died, Gwen Stefani took over lead vocals, while Eric took the responsibility of designing the band’s logo for promotional materials such as t-shirts and fliers. Fun fact: Eric went on to leave No Doubt to become an animator for the hit show The Simpsons.
What Happened to Gwen Stefani and No Doubt?
So, what happened with No Doubt and Gwen Stefani after the tragic death of John Spence?
Even though they almost fell apart in 1995, their legendary album Tragic Kingdom changed the course of history and became a huge global success. Here’s what Stefani had to say about No Doubt.
“We were sitting there saying to ourselves, ‘Okay, we are 26. We’ve been doing this for eight years. Maybe we should finish up and get adult lives now.’ Then the record came out, and people thought it was good, which was really weird because we were always the dork band from Anaheim. […] We never were cool enough or tough enough because we grew up in Orange County with all those punk bands. […] We played with them, but I always felt like Shirley Temple—just this little lollipop out there—and I could never have a really raspy or loud, screaming voice. We just never fit in. Plus, all the L.A. people looked down on us because we were from Orange County. We weren’t ‘cool.'”
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