The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Gwen Stefani

For many fans, Gwen Stefani is a supremely talented woman, celebrated for her high-energy performances, enthusiasm, and beauty  — including her standout shade of bold red lipstick. She is undoubtedly someone who commands attention, but although she's enjoyed career success, found love with a country music star, and established herself in the music industry, some parts of her story are far from happy.

"I went in and out of liking myself. I honestly think I was pretty hard on myself. But at the same time, I look back and I think, God, I was just being me and I got here because of that," she told Glamour in a 2023 interview. "So, I had to do a lot of forgiving of different things at certain times and, trying to be kind to myself." From heartbreak to being hard on herself, there have been many times in the "Bubble Pop Electric" singer's career that have stood out because they are tragic. This is Gwen Stefani's story.

Gwen Stefani has been honest about her dyslexia

Gwen Stefani's music has been life-changing in more ways than many people realize. She spoke about its impact on her life and how it helped her communicate and work to overcome a learning challenge with dyslexia. "Being dyslexic definitely has had challenges for me in my life and I will say the dyslexic advantage has probably made me who I am," she said while addressing the crowd during the New York Women in Communications 52nd Annual Matrix Awards in 2022 (via People).

The singer also discussed how songwriting "unlocked something" and allowed her to express herself in a new way. Before realizing she had dyslexia, Stefani struggled to understand why she felt so different and could not understand things that her peers could grasp with relative ease. She knew there was something different since childhood. She reflected on this in an interview with E! News at the event. "I was like, 'What is going on? I'm drowning.' But then when I found music, it was like I was able to communicate with very few words," she said.

Her children have also experienced learning challenges

Gwen Stefani has three sons, who she shares with her ex-husband, Gavin Rossdale. Motherhood changed her life in many ways, and she spoke about the experience with honesty and love. "It's the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me," she said after the birth of her firstborn, Kingston (via People). "It's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life. He is just ... a miracle. The whole thing ... in the stomach, coming out, and then they're... a human. It's just weird. It's incredible." All this to say, her experience as a mother has been a teaching moment in many ways, including allowing her to realize and understand her learning struggles.

"One thing that I've discovered through having kids is that I have dyslexia — everyone has things that happen, and mine was that," she told Zane Lowe on "The Zane Lowe Show" in 2020. "And I feel like a lot of the problems that I have had or even decisions that I've made for myself stem from that because now the children — obviously, it's all genetic — they have some of those issues." She noted differences between her own experience and her sons' because they have the resources available to get help with dyslexia and better understand the learning disorder.

Gwen Stefani's marriage blew up in a very public way

Before Gwen Stefani met and fell in love with Blake Shelton, she was married to another musician, Gavin Rossdale. They first met in 1995, and in 2002 they got engaged. Stefani and Rossdale would celebrate their wedding later that year — a memorable event because of the alternative gown the "Rich Girl" singer wore. It was a pink and white Dior dress designed by John Galliano.

For a long time, they appeared to be one of the most perfect celebrity couples and became parents to three children. Then in 2015, everything changed, and the news they had filed for divorce became public, and with it, a lot of speculation about what went wrong. This includes cheating allegations made against Rossdale and the family nanny, Mindy Mann. "The iPad was linked to Gavin's phone," a source close to the family allegedly told Us Weekly in 2015. "One of the other nannies discovered the exchange and told Gwen." They also claimed that the revelation left Stefani feeling "completely devastated."

Stefani gave an interview to Cosmopolitan in 2016 in which she addressed her divorce but would not confirm details about what went wrong. "Nobody except for my parents, the people involved, and whoever they told," she said. "Nobody would believe it if I could really say what happened. I went through months and months of torture."

The star has spoken about mental health

One of the things fans love about Gwen Stefani is how open she is. Sure, there are some topics she prefers not to discuss, like the details of her divorce from Gavin Rossdale, but there are other aspects of her life where she is an open book. This includes addressing her mental health and how she takes care of herself. In a 2023 interview with Glamour, she revealed that songwriting and exercise have been important releases for her.

"Honestly I have been writing a lot of music lately. I feel like that helps me so much with my mental health because a lot of thinking goes into it," she explained. "Songs can cure you." She also spoke about exercise, and while she readily admits she is not one to work out every day, she does see the benefits of regular exercise and how it can improve your mood. "So I think [exercise is] important. I think that just trying to find balance, you know, in everything, from prayer to exercise to making out with my husband, like all of it," she said.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Her relationship with Blake Shelton has been the topic of multiple rumors

When Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani first got together in 2015 (after meeting on "The Voice" the previous year), some fans were initially surprised by the coupling. They seemed so different; Stefani is the ultimate cool girl known for her style and bold red lipstick, while Shelton is laidback and prefers a quieter pace of life. But they came together, and their relationship went from strength to strength, eventually resulting in a marriage in July 2021.

Stefani has made no secret about her affection for Shelton, referring to him as her "best friend and my husband" in an interview with E! News. But despite their obvious happiness, the speculation continues about whether there is trouble in their marriage or that they could be headed for a divorce. This includes recent allegations made to RadarOnline in 2023.

"When they started dating, they couldn't keep their hands off each other," an unnamed friend of the couple reportedly told the publication. "But the spark started disappearing after their wedding. It seems like they argue constantly now — they've even slept in separate bedrooms after particularly bad fights. Friends are worried Gwen and Blake are falling out of love." Regardless of whether the reports are accurate or not, having your relationship become the topic of speculation is likely never easy.

She has pushed herself to the brink of exhaustion

Gwen Stefani knows the ins and outs of the music industry, which she has been a part of for decades. Her tremendous successes and her ability to continue to command the support of her loyal fans are impressive. Still, she didn't get where she is today without putting hard work into it. This includes making a comeback with No Doubt after recently giving birth. In an interview with Fault Magazine in 2023, she spoke about the "Push And Shove" album, released in 2012, and acknowledged how much work had gone into it at the time.

"That whole time period was just a really hard time. Everything was like we were in molasses and nothing was coming easy," Stefani confessed. In the same interview, the "It's My Life" singer also spoke about pushing herself to achieve the intended results. "We just had come back together, and we wanted to do it so badly, but for me, I was completely depleted from my world tour and giving birth," she said. "So many things had happened and then we tried to write that record."

Her brother's departure from No Doubt had a profound effect

Before Gwen Stefani embarked on a solo career, she was the frontwoman of the band, No Doubt. Her high energy and impressive vocals made her interesting to watch and perhaps even better to listen to. But she may never have got this opportunity if it wasn't for her brother, Eric Stefani.

Eric was a founding band member, and his sister later joined the group. Then in 1994, he decided to leave. It was a decision that significantly impacted Gwen, which she discussed years later during an appearance on "The Howard Stern Show." 

"I think that my brother, when he was quitting that was the worst thing that could ever happen to me," she said (via YouTube). But around this time is also when she began songwriting. In the same interview, Stefani spoke about how she took over the role of lead singer after founding member and former lead John Spence died by suicide in 1987.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls sparked criticism

Not everything Gwen Stefani has done in her life has been met with enthusiasm and praise. There was an era in her artistry that many people view as problematic; the Harajuku Girls. Stefani has been accused of cultural appropriation, and her actions have been the result of much criticism. Rather than apologize, she seemingly doubled down in an interview with Allure in 2023. In it, she spoke about her love for Japanese culture, which she had initially been exposed to because of her father's travel stories (he worked with Japanese manufacturer Yamaha).

"That was my Japanese influence and that was a culture that was so rich with tradition, yet so futuristic [with] so much attention to art and detail and discipline and it was fascinating to me," she told the publication. Once she traveled to the country herself, she was inspired. "I said, 'My God, I'm Japanese and I didn't know it.'" Her comments to the publication made it clear she does not regret the Harajuku Girls period, which she profited from, including a brand label called Harajuku Lovers. Instead, Stefani called it a "beautiful time of creativity" ... comments that not everyone will agree with. 

The coronavirus pandemic left her canceling shows

The coronavirus pandemic changed the world in many ways. Gwen Stefani discussed the effects it had on her, personally, when she was onstage at the Zappos Theater as part of her "Just A Girl" residency in Las Vegas, Nevada. Addressing the crowd, the "Hollaback Girl" singer said: "I was the first one to have COVID, in case you wondered. I was in Vegas. Do you remember when I canceled those four shows?" (via the Daily Mail).

She acknowledged how her approach to her shows changed because of the pandemic. "I would literally take people up here and make out with you, but ... I gotta make it through the next eight shows," she explained. Stefani is dedicated to her performances, though, as she revealed, she was willing to continue her residency, despite possibly contracting COVID again. "Just because I can't touch you, I'm still breathing your air right now, so that's the risk that I'm taking because I love you guys." After three years, she ended her residency in 2021, and fans were treated to a special performance when Blake Shelton joined Stefani onstage for her last night. 

Stefani married Shelton in 2021 and discussed wanting to put things on hold to spend time with him. In her interview with Fault Magazine, she addressed how she temporarily shifted her focus from her songwriting. "I felt I wanted to really be in that moment and not rush back to finish the album," she said.

Her breakup with bandmate Tony Kanal hit her hard

Gwen Stefani and her bandmate Tony Kanal were together for seven years. And she's honest about how in love she was with him. "I forced Tony to go out with me," she told Spin in a 2017 interview. "He wasn't even interested. When we made out that first night, I think he thought it was more of a one-night kiss. But then we started going out and after the first year, I was going, 'When are we getting married?'"

She was heartbroken when he broke up with her and admitted to being unable to accept it initially. "When we broke up, I still forced Tony to kiss me," she told Spin. "I was in denial. I might have lost the title of girlfriend, but in my eyes we were still together ... He didn't have to do anything, but when he felt like it, I was there. It was horrible." However, there was a silver lining around the time of the breakup because it inspired Stefani to start songwriting. This includes one of No Doubt's biggest hits, "Don't Speak." 

Many songs on the 1995 album "Tragic Kingdom" reflect how she felt at the time, and in a 2021 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Stefani addressed the experience. "The whole purpose for the 'Tragic Kingdom' is the breakup, the heartbreak. There's a lot of feelings," she said (via YouTube). "Those songs were about a really sad time for me."

Gwen Stefani and Courtney Love are no fans of each other

Gwen Stefani has millions of fans from around the world (she has over 16 million followers on Instagram alone), and she's given people a reason to like her. Some really love her, while others feel quite the opposite. One of the most outspoken and public disapprovals of Stefani came from Courtney Love, who has made several comments about the musician over the years. The two women have been involved in what the media would best describe as a "feud " — which would not be far from the truth, considering Love even claimed to have had a relationship with Gavin Rossdale while he was dating Stefani (via The Cut).

In an interview with ABC News in 2013, Love commented on Rossdale, describing him as "so good looking." But in the same interview, she also addressed Stefani and how she did not initially expect much from her. "Funny thing, you know, I would've never really bet on Gwen. Not back in the day," Love said.

She has experienced so much heartache

If you listen to "Tragic Kingdom," you will quickly learn how much the songs on the album revolve around heartbreak, which Gwen Stefani has acknowledged. Some of the most painful moments in her life have been channeled into her music, making for emotional and relatable songs. This includes her breakup with former No Doubt bandmate Tony Kanal and her public split from her ex-husband, Gavin Rossdale. In an interview with Marie Claire in 2017, Stefani acknowledged how her heartbreak allowed her to write about her experience and share it with others.

These days, the star's life is different, and from an outsider's perspective, she appears to have found love with her current husband, Blake Shelton. "For a long time, I could not understand why I'd had so much heartache in my life," Stefani said. "I have parents who are still married and in love. I had such loving role models. I didn't understand it."