Bradley Nowell (1968-1996)

In 1988, Nowell founded Sublime with bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, whom he had met while attending Cal State Long Beach. Sublime eventually became one of the most popular bands in Southern California. Specifically, they were the most popular band on the campus of Cal State Long Beach, where they often played at parties and bars in exchange for alcohol.

In 1989 Nowell and Michael “Miguel” Happoldt created Skunk Records, the label for which Sublime’s early recordings were produced and distributed. Skunk Records was named for Sublime’s combination Ska and Punk genre, and the names of the two were fused into “Skunk”. The band’s demo tapes were later sold at shows and local record stores. A few years later, Sublime produced its first studio recording, which resulted in the popular cassette tape called Jah Won’t Pay the Bills and released it in 1991.

As Nowell prepared to tour with the new material, he found that Gaugh was battling a drug problem. Gaugh soon decided to check himself into a drug rehabilitation center. Rather than tour without Gaugh, the trio decided to focus on recording their music in the studio.

In 1992, 40 Oz. to Freedom was released. Drummers Marshall Goodman and Kelly Vargas temporarily covered for Gaugh. Sixty-thousand copies were distributed and sold from the trunk of Nowell’s car. Despite growing popularity in Southern California, Sublime still had not landed a record deal with a major label.

On May 25, 1996, after a show in Petaluma, the band was scheduled to head up north. After checking into a San Francisco motel, Sublime’s drummer Gaugh found Nowell in bed with a faint heartbeat and an empty syringe in a dresser drawer; Nowell had died of an accidental heroin, Valium, and alcohol overdose, at age 28. Nowell’s last performance took place at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California. Nowell was cremated and his ashes were spread over his favorite surf spot, Surfside, California. A headstone was placed at Westminster Memorial in Westminster, California in his memory.

Source: Wikipedia


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