Bradley Nowell

Bradley Nowell
Bradley Nowell blended the sounds and styles he heard around him in Long Beach, California and used them to develop his own blend of music - mixing genres that didn't seem to belong together but made for excellent gigs. Taking control of his own destiny he bypassed the need for a major record label with his group, Sublime, having two strong selling CDs based on the group's reputation alone.

Bradley Nowell was born in 1968 and grew up with the stigma of attention deficit disorder and the associated (incorrect) assumption that he wasn't very clever. Coupled with his parents' divorce it was a difficult childhood but in 1981, at the age of eleven, he made a discovery that changed his life.

In 1981 on holiday in the Virgin Islands Brad heard reggae music for the first time. Back from holiday he started to teach himself guitar to match the rhythms and style laid down by reggae bands. Getting his first guitar when he was twelve he continued to play reggae but also opened up to all the other musical styles around him, such as punk. The merger of these different genres helped Brad develop not only his own style of playing but also his own style of music.

Brad continued in education but music was still his first love and after three years in college he dropped out to concentrate on his playing. His influences now were more widespread and the songs he wrote combined not only punk and reggae but also elements of hip hop, ska, funk, and heavy metal. Together with Eric Wilson (bass) and Bud Gaugh (drums) he formed Sublime to allow him to develop and play this new style of music.

Sublime played wherever they could across Southern California, they played for money, they played for beer, they played clubs, they played backyards the important thing to them was that they played and people listened. Their popularity was such that their first CD "40oz of Freedom" shifted 60,000 copies without a distribution deal, just the trunk of a car. With no major label interested Sublime recorded and released their second album "Robbin' The 'Hood". It wasn't until local radio picked up on their song "Date Rape" that the majors took interest and in 1994 Sublime signed to MCA.

Brad was now in a position he could have only dreamt of when growing up, his own musically style, sold out gigs across Southern California, two successful independent CDs and now a major contract and the chance to break into the big time.

In 1996 Sublime entered the studios and recorded their first album for MCA. Brad however never saw the musical fruits of his labor as he died just a few months prior to its release.

  • Brad's pet Dalmatian, 'Lou Dog', was often allowed to wander onstage while Sublime were playing.

  • He continued to appear in Sublime's videos after his death - as a ghostly transparent image.

  • After Brad's death Gwen Stefani and No Doubt covered "DJs" during their "Tragic Kingdom" tour.

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