Formation and early years (1986–1989)
Eric Stefani and John Spence met at a Dairy Queen, and talked about getting a group together to play music. Stefani acquired a keyboard and gathered some players together to practice; these included himself (keyboards), his sister Gwen Stefani (backing vocals), John Spence (lead vocals), Jerry McMahon (guitar), Chris Leal (bass), Chris Webb (drums), Gabriel Gonzalez & Alan Meade (trumpet), and Tony Meade (saxophone). They practiced in Eric's parents' garage.
Tony Kanal went to one of the band's early shows, and soon joined the band as its bassist. After initially rejecting her advances, he began dating Gwen, but they kept their relationship secret for a year, feeling that it was an unspoken rule that no one in the band date her. Paul Caseley (trombone) also joined the band in 1987. Eric Carpenter (saxophone) joined the horn section soon after. The group performed at an Orange High School backyard graduation party on June 6, 1987 with two other California ska bands. At the party, No Doubt's set included "Total Hate", "Too Much Pressure", "Gangsters", and the song "No Doubt". Video clips from the party have appeared on VH1's Behind the Music.
In December 1987, Spence committed suicide several days before the band was to play a gig at The Roxy Theatre for record industry employees. No Doubt disbanded but decided to regroup after several weeks with Alan Meade taking over vocals. When Meade left the band, Gwen replaced him as lead singer, and No Doubt continued to develop a live following in California. In early 1988, Tom Dumont left Rising, a heavy metal band of which he was a member with his sister, stating that local metal bands "were into drinking, wearing Spandex" but that he wanted to focus on music. He joined No Doubt and replaced Jerry McMahon as the band's guitarist. Adrian Young replaced Chris Webb as their drummer the following year. During this time period, No Doubt played gigs at local colleges, Fender's Grand Ballroom, The Whisky, The Roxy, many shows with The Untouchables, Fishbone, and a show with the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Cal State Long Beach. Caseley left No Doubt in July 1989 for the US Navy Band.
Debut album (1990–1992)
Impressed by the presence of stage diving fans at No Doubt's concerts and Gwen's on-stage presence, Tony Ferguson signed the band to a multi-album deal with the newly created Interscope Records in 1990. No Doubt's self-titled debut album was finally released in 1992, but it featured no radio singles, although a video was made for "Trapped in a Box". The album's distinctly upbeat pop/cartoon sound sharply contrasted with the then-dominant grunge movement. Owing to the music world's direct focus on grunge, No Doubt's album was not supported by the record label, and was considered a commercial failure for selling only 30,000 copies. The band embarked on a national tour in support of the album, though Interscope refused to support the tour. The band failed to bring the audiences that it had attracted in southern California, and often found that No Doubt was not even available in the cities where it was playing. Eric Stefani began to withdraw from the group, vacillating between being in and out of the band.
The Beacon Street Collection, Tragic Kingdom, and Eric Stefani's departure (1993–1997)
The band began work on its next album the next year, but Interscope rejected much of its material, and the band was paired with producer Matthew Wilder. Eric did not like to relinquish creative control to someone outside the band and eventually stopped recording and rehearsing. He left No Doubt in 1994 to resume an animation career with the cartoon TV series The Simpsons. Kanal then ended his seven-year relationship with Gwen, saying that he needed "space". Unsure of what to do with the band, Interscope sublicensed the project to Trauma Records in 1993. No Doubt released The Beacon Street Collection, consisting of outtakes from its previous recording sessions, that year on its own label, Beacon Street Records. Mixing 1980s punk rock and some grunge influences into the band's sound, the album contains a rawer sound than No Doubt, and it sold more than three times as many copies as its predecessor. Later that year, the label released Tragic Kingdom, much of which dealt with the relationship between Tony Kanal and Gwen Stefani.
The release of 1995's Tragic Kingdom and the single "Just a Girl" allowed the group to achieve mainstream commercial success. No Doubt began touring in support of the album late that year, and it grew into a 27-month international tour. In 1996, the second single, "Spiderwebs", was successful, and "Don't Speak", a ballad written by Gwen and Eric Stefani about Gwen and Kanal's break-up, was released as the third single and broke the previous record when it topped the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay for sixteen weeks. No Doubt was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Rock Album at the 1997 Grammy Awards. By the end of the year, half of the songs on Tragic Kingdom had been released as singles, and the album was certified eight times platinum. Later, they were nominated for two more Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, both for "Don't Speak". The Recording Industry Association of America certified the album diamond in February 1999, and with worldwide sales of sixteen million, it is one of the best-selling albums in history. Through the success of Tragic Kingdom, the band's self-titled debut album began again to sell copies, and reached total sales of over a quarter of a million copies.
The album's release fueled a dispute between Trauma and Interscope Records over No Doubt's recording contract. Trauma sued for US$100 million for breach of contract, fraud, and extortion and sought to have its joint venture agreement ended, claiming that Interscope had reneged on its contract after the band had become more successful than expected. No Doubt had previously stated that it had switched to Trauma Records and that the transition was "really great...because now we have the attention and the focus of a small indie label." The case was settled out of court with a $3 million payment.
Return of Saturn and Rock Steady (1998–2002)
The band finished its tour in December 1997 and had several releases during the two-year writing process to make its follow-up to Tragic Kingdom. Live in the Tragic Kingdom, a live long-form video of the band's performance at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, was released and The Beacon Street Collection was re-released while the band was on tour that year. The band recorded "I Throw My Toys Around" with Elvis Costello for The Rugrats Movie, and it contributed to The Clash's tribute album Burning London: The Clash Tribute. Stefani began to make recordings without the band, contributing vocals to tracks for The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Prince, Fishbone & Familyhood Nextperience, and her boyfriend Gavin Rossdale's band Bush. After some time in-between albums, No Doubt included its song "New" on the soundtrack to the movie Go in 1999. "New", inspired by Gwen's budding relationship with Rossdale, was one of the first songs written after the release of Tragic Kingdom.
In 2000, the band released Return of Saturn, its follow-up to Tragic Kingdom. The album featured a darker tone and was more lyrically advanced than No Doubt's previous work. The main lyrical focus of the new record had shifted from Gwen Stefani's relationship with bassist Tony Kanal to her new relationship with Gavin Rossdale. Return of Saturn was critically acclaimed, but was not as commercially successful as their previous album, and the lead single, "Ex-Girlfriend", failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Also released as singles from the album were the tracks "Simple Kind of Life" and "Bathwater". Lukewarm sales drastically shortened the tour that followed, appearing only in festival settings in L.A., Cincinnati, Nashville, Jacksonville and Miami. On August 10, No Doubt went on VH1 Storytellers and performed a few of their songs, and were joined by friend Alain Johannes (of Eleven) and former member Eric Stefani.
After Return of Saturn, the band returned to recording in January 2001. During this time, it contributed a cover version of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" for the Zoolander soundtrack and recorded a song with Kelis for her album Wanderland. Stefani made high-profile appearances on Moby's "South Side" and Eve's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind". These appearances lent No Doubt credibility and an opportunity to explore new genres. Highly influenced by Jamaican dancehall music and recorded primarily in Jamaica, the band's 2001 studio album, Rock Steady, produced two hit Grammy-winning singles, "Hey Baby", which featured Bounty Killer, and "Underneath It All", which featured the first lady of dancehall, Lady Saw. Both singles managed to reach the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also released "Hella Good" and "Running" as singles. In addition, pop-star Prince co-wrote, produced, and performed on "Waiting Room" from Rock Steady. Stefani had previously provided vocals for a song on Prince's Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic album, "So Far, So Pleased". In November 2002, No Doubt made an appearance in the Dawson's Creek episode "Spiderwebs".
Greatest-hits album and first hiatus (2003–2008)
2003 was a big year of releases for No Doubt. The album The Singles 1992–2003, a compilation of the band's commercially released singles, was released on November 25, 2003. It included a cover of the song "It's My Life", which had originally been a hit for synthpop group Talk Talk in 1984, and earned No Doubt a Grammy nomination for Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. Additionally, a special 2-CD 2-DVD box set titled Boom Box was made available, which included the CDs The Singles 1992–2003 and Everything in Time and the DVDs The Videos 1992–2003 and Live in the Tragic Kingdom. Separately, Rock Steady Live, a DVD of the band performing in Long Beach from their Rock Steady tour was released in 2003 as well. The next year, the band was featured in a re-recording of the Toots and the Maytals classic song "Monkey Man". The band also toured with Blink-182 in mid-2004, before embarking on a hiatus.
Lead singer Gwen Stefani began work on her 1980s-inspired new wave and dance-pop side project in 2003, which eventually evolved into the full-fledged solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., released on November 23, 2004. The album reached multi-platinum status in several countries, including a quintuple platinum certification in Canada and triple platinum in the US.
No Doubt was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.
Stefani launched her first solo arena tour in October 2005, which coincided with the news of her pregnancy (her son, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale, was born on May 26, 2006). She released her second solo dance-pop album, The Sweet Escape in December 2006.
In early 2005, Tom Dumont released his own solo music project, Invincible Overlord, with friend and collaborator Ted Matson, and backed up Matt Costa on his 2005 tour. Adrian Young, the band's drummer, did the drums for Bow Wow Wow's 2004 tour and many of the tracks on Unwritten Law's 2005 release Here's to the Mourning, as well as featuring on several shows in 2006 for TheStart. Young will also be playing on Rock Star: Supernova runner-up Dilana's upcoming album.
In 2008, Tony Kanal collaborated with pop rock artist Pink on the album Funhouse. Kanal co-produced "Sober", co-wrote "Funhouse" and also sang back-up vocals on "Crystal Ball".
Reunion and Push and Shove (2008–2013)
With Stefani promoting her second solo album, No Doubt began initial work on a new album without her and planned to complete it after Stefani's tour was finished. However songwriting was slow as Gwen Stefani was, at the time, pregnant with her second child. The album was produced by Mark "Spike" Stent, who helped produce and mix Rock Steady.
No Doubt announced on their official website that they would tour in the summer of 2009 with Paramore, The Sounds, Janelle Monáe, Bedouin Soundclash, Katy Perry, Panic! at the Disco, and Matt Costa, all while finishing their upcoming album, which was set for release in 2010. As a special promotion for the tour, the band was giving away their entire music catalog free as a digital download with purchase of top tier seating.
The band released another compilation album on November 2 called Icon, in preparation for their upcoming comeback album. Icon featured the same track listing as their previous compilation album The Singles 1992–2003 albeit with new artwork and a low price point.
On June 11, 2012, the band announced on their official website that the new album would be out on September 25, preceded by the first single in July 16. The album was titled Push and Shove and the first single was a song called "Settle Down". The music video for "Settle Down" was directed by Sophie Muller (who has previously directed numerous music videos for No Doubt). "Settle Down" peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the album peaking at #3. On November 3, 2012, the band pulled its music video "Looking Hot" from the Internet after receiving complaints that it was insensitive towards Native Americans.
As of February 1, 2013, the band stated via Twitter that they had "Finished a week of songwriting", implying that they have more new tracks written. As of February 26, 2013, the band officially confirmed through their website that they had indeed begun working on new music as well as plans for an upcoming tour.
Second hiatus, touring, and future (2013–present)
In October 2013 Tom revealed on social networking site that the band was once again on hiatus, also hinting that the band will regroup in 2014. No Doubt performed at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on September 27, 2014. They also announced via Twitter that they would perform at Rock in Rio USA in May 2015. With the release of Gwen Stefani's solo single "Baby Don't Lie", she announced that No Doubt were working on a new album. However, during an interview with the Orange County Register in April 2015, Tony Kanal stated that the band was not working on any new material.
No Doubt performed at several events during 2015, including Global Citizen Earth Day Concert, Rock In Rio USA, and was expected to perform at Jazz Aspen Snowmass, in Colorado, Riot Fest and Carnival in Chicago, and Kaaboo in Del Mar, Calif.
In a June 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Stefani expressed uncertainty over the future of No Doubt. "I don't know what's going to happen with No Doubt. When Tony [Kanal] and I are connected creatively, it's magic. But I think we've grown apart as far as what kind of music we want to make. I was really drained and burned out when we recorded that album [2012's Push and Shove]. And I had a lot of guilt: 'I have to do it.' That's not the right setting to make music. There's some really great writing on that record. But the production felt really conflicted. It was sad how we all waited that long to put something out and it didn't get heard."
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed No Doubt among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.