Breakups can change a person’s life in many different ways, and it seems this was also the case for superstar Gwen Stefani. When Stefani had her first breakup in the 1990s, she was just another aspiring singer. However, the breakup forced her to make a positive change to her career that eventually led her to become the performer we know her as today.
Gwen Stefani’s first breakup was with Tony Kanal from No Doubt
Stefani’s first boyfriend was her band mate Tony Kanal from No Doubt. The two of them began dating in 1987, shortly after No Doubt was formed.
Stefani was extremely in love with Kanal. She recalled to Howard Stern in 2016, as reported by E! News, “I was in love and obsessed with Tony Kanal, and he knows that… As soon as he opened the car door I was like, ‘I love him. I don’t know why.”
Stefani even dreamed of having kids with Kanal. However, her fairytale came to an end in 1994 when Kanal broke up with her.
Gwen Stefani began writing songs after her breakup
After the breakup, Stefani started using songwriting to get her feelings out. In fact, before this event, she had not thought much about writing music for No Doubt.
She told The Guardian in 2012, “Before, I was really passive, all I cared about was being in love with my boyfriend. I didn’t have any creative power, nothing. I don’t know that person any more. But I’d been really bad at school and didn’t know what I would do, I just sang in my brother’s band. But after the breakup I just started writing all these songs and suddenly I was: ‘Oh I think I’m really good at this!”
No Doubt’s first number one song was about the breakup
No Doubt’s first number one single, “Don’t Speak,” was about Stefani and Kanal’s breakup. It was as a part of their 1995 album Tragic Kingdom.
The two of them have been performing “Don’t Speak” together for years now, and Kanal told The Guardian that it was quite “brutal” in the beginning.
“We were on tour for Tragic Kingdom for 28 months,” Kanal said. “We were going through the breakup, and in every interview we were talking about it so we were opening this wound on an hourly basis. It was so brutal but I don’t know how we made it through.”
Stefani also told Howard Stern that the experience of singing “Don’t Speak” was still quite “weird” for her even a decade later.
However, Stefani and Kanal had not let the breakup affect the group. In fact, Stefani has since written a more songs about Kanal. For example, her 2005 hit single “Cool” talked about her enduring friendship with Kanal after being romantically involved with each other. In a way, it was a follow-up to the painful breakup Stefani sang about in “Don’t Speak.”
“It just ended this whole thing for me in my head, and it puts an end to a chapter in a really nice way,” she said, according to MTV.