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November 4, 2023

Rarely Seen Photographs of No Doubt From Their Early Days in 1987 and 1988

In 1986, Eric Stefani, his younger sister Gwen, and John Spence decided they would form a ska band while working at a Dairy Queen in Orange, California.

Inspired by British ska bands like Madness, The English Beat, and The Specials, the Stefani siblings and Spence had their earliest formation of a band—a nine-piece including Gwen Stefani on backing vocals, Eric on keyboards and Spence as lead vocalist. Inspired by Bad Brains frontman H.R., Spence’s on-stage antics were explosive and everyone knew his signature response to most things: “no doubt.”

Spence’s recurring phrase eventually stuck as the band’s name.

In December of 1987, Spence took his own life; he shot himself in the head. “He was a very important part of the band,” Stefani said. “He was the one who said, ‘Look, I want to be a singer.’ He was the one who used to say ‘No Doubt.’ And that’s where we got the name. It still haunts us in a way.… When your friend dies like that, and it’s so unexpected, it’s very traumatic. I think it taught us all a big lesson in how much one person can influence so many different people.”

No Doubt soon rounded out with previous bassist Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont, who left the heavy metal band Rising, Adrian Young replacing drummer Chris Webb in 1989, and Eric Stefani.


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