As the frontman of the pop-punk outfit Good Charlotte, singer Joel Madden steadily rose from high school obscurity (documented in the band's first radio hit, "Little Things") to celebrity status, a feat that owed as much to the popularity of his love life as his group's string of pop anthems. Born in early 1979, Joel Reuben Combs was raised in suburban Maryland alongside his identical twin, Benji. Their father left the family when the brothers were 15 years old, forcing Joel to work after-school jobs to offset his family's financial troubles. (He would later change his surname to Madden -- his mother's maiden name -- to distance himself from his father.) One year after their dad's departure, Joel and his brother attended an inspirational Beastie Boys concert and left the venue with the desire to start a band. Several music-minded classmates from La Plata High School were recruited, and Good Charlotte officially took root in 1996.
After Epic Records released Good Charlotte's self-titled debut in 2000, the Maddens found themselves hosting MTV's All Things Rock. Their band's popularity swelled as a result, and The Young and the Hopeless officially launched Good Charlotte into the mainstream in 2002. Bandmembers came and went during the following years, but Joel remained at the forefront of the group, helming such hits as "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Hold On." Although Good Charlotte's album sales took a slight dip on 2004's The Chronicles of Life and Death and 2007's Good Morning Revival, Madden continued to make headlines due to his publicized relationships with Hilary Duff and Nicole Richie. While the paparazzi watched, Madden and Duff publicly halted their relationship in fall 2006, a split that fueled much of the lyrical content of Duff's Dignity. Madden then began dating Ritchie that December; several months later, the couple announced the expectation of their first child. ~ Andrew Leahey