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John Spence
Born February 3, 1969(1969-02-03)
Origin Anaheim, California
Died December 21, 1987 (aged 18)
Genres Ska punk, Alternative rock, Pop rock
Occupations Musician, Singer
Years active 1986–1987
Associated acts No Doubt

John Francis Spence (February 3, 1969 – December 21, 1987) was a founding member of the then 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 energetic frontman, doing backflips and wild screams on the stage. Early on their performances became popular on the local scene for being lively and entertaining.

On December 21, 1987, at the age of 18, Spence committed suicide[1] by shooting himself with a gun in a park located in Anaheim, California. This was early in No Doubt's existence therefore John never appeared on any of the band's albums. Naturally, this event was a big shock for his bandmates and friends, who found out about his death only a few days before they were going to play a big industry gig at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood. It was known by his close friends and family that John had made attempts on his life before and that he was likely experiencing depression.

John's early death could have spelled the end for the relatively newly formed band. At the Roxy gig the remaining members of the band announced their breakup. Several days later they reformed feeling that John would have wanted them to stay together. The band tried to replace John after his death with Alan Meade (a close friend, member of the horn section of the band, and brother of band member Tony Meade). Gwen eventually took over the role lead vocalist when Alan left the band. Alan wrote the song "Dear John" in tribute to their lost friend; this recording is very rare. The song's lyrics expresses the bandmates' sorrow for having lost a good friend. It's featured fifth of five songs on a demo tape they recorded in 1988 and sold at performances held by the band. The tape's cover features cartoons drawn by band co-founder Eric Stefani.

In the booklet for No Doubt's 1992 self-titled release, the dedication page states that the album is dedicated to John, and includes a cartoon of John doing his signature flip and scream. The song "Move On" refers to his death with the line "5 reached the side/One step below zen".


  1. ^ "Gwen Stefani". Retrieved 2 May 2009.  

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