Artsy high school senior Stefani dreams of being a homemaker like her mother, but when older brother Eric forms a band, No Doubt, with fellow Dairy Queen workers, she agrees to join as second vocalist. In December 1987, the band's lead singer, John Spence, takes his own life at age 18. At her brother's urging, Stefani takes over lead vocals. "All I wanted to ever do was get married and have babies, have a house," she tells the Washington Post a decade later. "So it's weird that I'm in a rock group."
No Doubt's brand of pop-ska fusion is a hit on the Orange County club circuit, but L.A. radio station KROQ refuses to play their 1991 demo. Despite the rejection, No Doubt continues performing and catches the attention of Interscope executive Jimmy Iovine. Unfortunately, No Doubt's 1992 debut album is a flop, and Interscope backs off.
Stefani's seven-year relationship with No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal ends and the band is on the brink of breakup, but Stefani keeps them on track by throwing herself into songwriting to work through her pain. The result is Tragic Kingdom.
No Doubt releases Tragic Kingdom after Interscope gives the band a second shot on its Trauma label. The disc becomes No Doubt's most successful album, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide and spending nine weeks at the No. 1 position on the Billboard Top 200 chart, spurred on by hit singles "Don't Speak," "Spiderwebs" and "Just a Girl." The videos feature frenetic performances by Stefani, decked out in platinum-blonde hair, belly-baring midriff shirts and her most striking feature, vermilion lips. She is featured on several magazine covers.
No Doubt returns from a 27-month worldwide tour, during which Stefani meets London-based singer-songwriter Gavin Rossdale while opening for his grunge band Bush – the pair begins a commuter relationship.
At the MTV Video Music Awards, No Doubt's video "Don't Speak" wins Best Group Video, their first award. No Doubt goes on to win two more VMAs in 2002. Stefani, wearing one of her own creations, wins Diddy's best-dressed award at the 2005 VMAs.
Stefani teams up with rapper Eve for the duet "Let me Blow Ya Mind." "I had never worked with a girl before – let alone a rapper," she tells Teen People, "but Eve's fantastic." So is the duet, which wins Stefani her first Grammy.
After asking her father's permission, Rossdale proposes to Stefani. That September, with 150 guests and two Hungarian sheepdogs as witnesses, Stefani weds Rossdale in a 17th-century churchyard in London. She wears a white-and-pink Dior gown by John Galliano. The couple has two other nuptials – including one for the Stefani clan in L.A. and another for their friends.
No Doubt finally wins a Grammy for the hip-hop-infused track "Hey Baby." In 2003, they win a second Grammy for the pop-reggae ballad "Underneath It All," from their Rock Steady album.
After being tapped by director Martin Scorsese to play 1930s starlet Jean Harlow opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, Stefani launches her handbag line L.A.M.B. for LeSportsac (Love Angel Music Baby). It's a fast seller, and is expanded into a full line of clothing, sneakers and even digital cameras. "I'm literally designing for myself," she tells PEOPLE. "I get to wear the clothes and enjoy my little dream come true."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Classmates Yearbook Archives; catuffe/sipa; Kevin Mazur/Wireimage; Ron Galella/WireImage; Lester Cohen/WireImage; Zandarin and Allen/REX FEATURES; Gary Hershorn/reuters/landov; Sara Jaye Weiss