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Gwen Stefani considered herself a star even back when she was with her band No Doubt. But the late Prince might’ve given Stefani advice that helped her reach her full potential.

Gwen Stefani once reflected on Prince’s advice

Prince performing on stage.
Prince | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Prince has always had some influence on Stefani as an artist. The singer even recalled Prince being one of the motivating factors behind going solo. Stefani was the vocalist for the band No Doubt up until the 2000s when they split to focus on their individual careers. Stefani was excited by the opportunity to work alongside others after leaving No Doubt. But she also wanted to explore her artistry in a way she couldn’t while a part of the ensemble.

“I love being in that band and we’re like a family,” Stefani once told Vanity Fair. “But sometimes I felt like I couldn’t do other things I wanted to do—like costume changes and girl stuff that I was always interested in. Plus, I really loved a lot of Prince … and ’80s dance music. So when the band took a break, I was excited to work with a lot of different people.”

Stefani also worked with Prince eventually, who gave her eye-opening advice she seemed to follow throughout her career. The Voice star already knew how to write songs, but Prince wanted her to focus on making hits.

“Prince, who is one of my idols, gave me some advice when I worked with him: ‘Have you ever just tried writing a hit? Like, don’t just try writing a song, try and write a hit song.’ I remember him saying that and me thinking, Yeah, you’re right,” Stefani said. “Why would you write anything else?”

Gwen Stefani once recalled what it was like working with Prince

Working with the late Prince was a moment Stefani couldn’t forget. The multi-platinum artist reflected on first collaborating with the artist on The Howard Stern Show. She remembered that Prince called Stefani out of the blue to ask if they could work together. After meeting, Stefani asserted that she was in the booth for eight hours crafting the record. But Stefani felt that, in terms of musical ability, Prince was on another level. Which led to Stefani having some nerves working with Prince.

“I was so scared because I’m not even that good of a singer,” Stefani said. “I’m saying, technically, as a singer, I kind of have my style or whatever. But it’s not like I have a big range. I can sing in tune, and I can hear notes, but he’s like a genius.”

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Finding out whether she had a hit on her hands wasn’t difficult for Stefani. She brought up one of her biggest tracks, “Holla Back Girl”, as a reference. The singer asserted she was able to feel the track’s potential as soon as she finished it. She couldn’t wait to release it to the world.

“I remember writing ‘Hollaback Girl’ with Pharrell, and we had written all these other songs, and we just knew, we just knew. We were jumping all over the couch, we were doing the Tom Cruise, we were like, ‘Ahhhhh! We got the champagne, brought in Jimmy; we were like, ‘We got the song!’” Stefani said in a 2011 interview with Elle.

Stefani would also occasionally revisit her past tracks to help inform her latest projects.

“I mean, sometimes we listen back, when we’re writing, because it’s inspiring—especially when we were trying to write and we couldn’t. We were like, ‘Oh my God, these songs are great! We wrote these!’ God,” she said. “And they bring you right back to that moment in time. Because it’s really weird to sing a song to 25,000 people and have your kids on the side of the stage, and you’re singing ‘Simple Kind of Life.’ Whatever the lyrics mean to anyone else is one thing, but no one will ever know what they really mean to me, you know? It’s pretty intense.”