Wentz steals a bass guitar from the brother of a friend and forms his first band, First Born. "It seemed like it was an interesting instrument to play, where you would only stand out if you wanted to stand out," Wentz tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "And when you weren't, you could definitely not be standing out."
After playing in a handful of local bands, Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman hook up with vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stump to form Fall Out Boy. "We were all playing in different hardcore bands on the same scene with each other," Wentz later tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Within a year, they're signed by California indie label Uprising Records. In 2002, they release their first album, Fall Out Boy's Evening Out with Your Girlfriend.
Fall Out Boy releases Take This To Your Grave. Many of the album's lyrics center on Wentz's ex-girlfriend cheating on him with two of his friends the same weekend while Wentz was on tour. Wentz later tells the Pittburgh Post-Gazette, "It was very, very cathartic. When somebody hangs up on the phone when you're 2,000 miles away from them, you have no recourse. The only reaction there is, is a pen. There's nothing else that you can do." The album becomes one of the best-selling indie records of 2003.
Wentz takes a near-lethal dose of Ativan anxiety pills while sitting alone in his sister's car in a Chicago area parking lot. "I just wanted to have my head shut up," he later tells the UK's Independent. "I was either totally anxious or totally depressed." Wentz's suicide attempt later inspires the song, "7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)," and he becomes a spokesperson for the Jed Foundation's Half Of Us campaign, promoting mental health for students.
Fall Out Boy releases From Under the Cork Tree, which debuts at No. 9 on the Billboard charts, and eventually goes double platinum. It spawns two Top Ten hits with "Sugar, We're Going Down" and "Dance, Dance," a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, and a big tour with Panic! at the Disco – a band Wentz discovered and signed to his Decaydance record label.
Nude photos of Wentz are allegedly stolen from his phone and hit the web. "The pictures were actually taken like a year before and, at that time, I was this dude who no one cared about, 'cause, otherwise, I don't think I'd have those," he tells the Toronto Sun.
Wentz and Ashlee Simpson (left) are spotted making out in New York City. But Wentz denies the romance, telling Rolling Stone, "Maybe in a different universe, we'd be some hot couple, but not in this one." By spring, they go public. "The truth is, it's crazy to be able to kiss your best friend," Wentz tells PEOPLE.
Fueled largely by the hits "This Ain't a Scene, It's An Arms Race" and "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs," Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and goes platinum in a little over a month. In March, Wentz and his bandmates appear on the cover of Rolling Stone. Soon after, he opens the nightclub Angels & Kings in New York's East Village.
Wentz and Simpson announce their engagement. "We wanted our fans to be the first to know, because you guys are the best," Simpson says in a statement. "Yes, we are thrilled to share that we are happily engaged." The announcement is followed by persistent pregnancy reports, which they initially deny. On May 17, the pair marries in an intimate ceremony at Simpson's parents' L.A. area home before confirming that they are, in fact, expecting their first child.
Simpson-Wentz and Wentz welcome son Bronx Mowgli to the family. The newborn weighs in at 7lbs., 11 oz. In December, Wentz has another kind of baby: Fall Out Boy's third album, Folie A Deux.
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): amazon.com; amazon.com; amazon.com; Brian Ach/WireImage; Courtesy of Rolling Stone; Big Pictures/Bauer-Griffin