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John Spence

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Biography

Anaheim, Los Angeles CA, United States

John Francis Spence (3 February 1969–21 December 1987), always saying he wanted to be in a band, was a founding member of the then 2 Tone-Ska band No Doubt, along with Eric Stefani who had his younger sister Gwen Stefani sing backing vocals. John, who came up with the band’s name from his favorite expression, took on the role as the lead vocalist, with the Madness-inspired Eric behind the keyboard. John was No Doubt’s then energetic frontman, doing backflips and wild screams on the stage. Their performances early became popular on the local scene for being lively and entertaining.

In December 21 1987, at the age of 18, he committed suicide by shooting himself with a gun in a park located in Anaheim, California, early in No Doubt’s existence, and therefore never appeared on any of the band’s albums. This event was described as a big shock for his bandmates and friends, who found him lying dead in the park only a few days before they were going to play a big industry gig at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood. The reason behind his suicide is believed by his bandmates partially to be because of all the pressure he must have put on himself as the frontman.

This could have spelled the end for the relatively newly formed band, since after his death and the gig at The Roxy the demoralized band broke up. But they reformed days later feeling that was what John would have wanted them to do. Gwen eventually took over the role lead vocalist. Later, the band wrote “Dear John” in tribute to him, although this recording is very rare. It’s featured fifth of five songs on a demo tape they recorded in 1988 and sold at performances held by the band.

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