Born in Napanee, Ontario to conservative parents, Lavigne grew up singing country music and in a church choir and taught herself guitar. She was signed by Arista Records head L.A. Reid when she was 16 years old. She moved to New York City to work on her first album.
Let Go - career breakthroughApparently, early attempts to co-write songs for her failed to meet her approval, and she eventually moved to Los Angeles, California and co-wrote her album with Clif Magness and a songwriting team called "The Matrix", whose previous work included songs for Sheena Easton and Christina Aguilera. Her first album, Let Go, was released by Arista on June 4, 2002, and was certified "Quadruple Platinum" less than six months later by the Recording Industry Association of America. She was named "Best New Artist" at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards and at the 2003 Juno Awards, where she led all musicians with six nominations, winning four Junos. She also has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards but has not won any to date.
As of June 2004, Let Go had sold 14 million albums and reached the number one spot in the UK, Australia and Canada and #2 in the US. Let Go spawned 5 hit singles in various parts of the world:
- "Complicated" went to #1 on the US adult charts and in Australia while reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100;
- "Sk8er Boi" (txt for Skater Boy) went top 10 in the US and Australia and top 30 in Canada;
- "I'm With You" reached #1 on the US and world adult charts (based on the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Australia) Taiwan and Canada and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100;
- "Losing Grip" reached #1 in Canada, #10 Taiwan, #20 Chile and top 50 on a composite European chart; and
- "Mobile" reached the top ten in Taiwan and went top 40 in New Zealand.
The media has often compared her to Alanis Morissette, though she has been criticized for not being as strong a lyricist as Morissette at the same age. She has also often been compared with singers Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch, who emerged at about the same time and were, like Lavigne, popularly credited as being part of a trend towards more earnestness and genuine creativity in an often vacuous and pre-fabricated teen pop music market.
Whilst her marketing has been every bit as sophisticated as, for instance, that of Britney Spears and her competitors, a profile in the Washington Post found that in the flesh, her personality reflected the marketing and found her, if anything, something of a wide-eyed innocent, citing the fact that she was intending to purchase her first Ramones CD. In another interview, she listed her current listening tastes as including Blink 182, Sum 41, and System of a Down. Lavigne had a close friendship with Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and hired a former member of that band Mark Spicoluk as a member of her backing band.
She describes her first album as a pop album with "a couple of rock songs on it," and has indicated a desire to write more rock-oriented songs in the future.
Lavigne wrote most of her 2004 album with Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk. She also co-wrote one track, "Nobody's Home", with Ben Moody, formerly of Evanescence, and the rest with her guitarist Evan Taubenfeld. Lavigne used three producers for Under My Skin notably:
- Butch Walker from Marvelous 3;
- Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace; and
- Don Gilmore, who has produced Good Charlotte and Linkin Park.
Personal life and triviaHer "skater punk" fashion style was one of the most imitated of 2002. In March 2004, she became involved in a celebrity feud with Hilary Duff: Duff reportedly criticized Lavigne after she apparently got mad at her fans for dressing like her. Duff called her "mean-spirited" and said, "You should be happy that these people like you and look up to you."
During an interview for a Boston radio station, Lavigne then said that Duff was a "mommy's girl" and a "goody two-shoes." She then said to Duff (who was not present during that interview), "You can go screw yourself". Reportedly, Lavigne also said about Duff, "I'm sure she's really nice and sweet. I'm sure she's all smiles."
During that same interview, she spotted a picture of herself and ripped it up, allegedly saying "I hate that (bleeped) photo!" All this happened while on air. According to Lavigne, she had permission to take the picture down.
Avril Lavigne has made the list of FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2003 and the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2004.