R.I.P. Bradley Nowell R.I.P.
Many rock stars have come and gone. Many had to work to become what they had dreamed of being when they were just young children. All their journeys are inspirational but one man has always stood out in my mind when I think of hard work, dedicaton, and inspiration for all aspiring musicians, the late Brad Nowell.
Bradley James Nowell was born on February 22, 1968, in Long Beach California. Brad was born with attention deficit disorder, a term used for kids like Brad who didn't live up to their potential. But Brad was very smart. He got good grades as a kid, and was smart enough to get his younger sister, Kellie, to do his homework for him when he didn't feel like doing it. His parents divorced when he was ten years old, and like many children he blamed himself. He lived with his mother, Nancy Nowell, in Orange county for four years.
In 1981, Brad moved in with his Dad, Jim Nowell. When Brad was eleven years old he took a trip to the Virgin Islands with his dad and heard reggae music for the first time. This music would change his life. He loved the style and sound of music. When Brad came back from the Virgin Islands he started teaching himself to play the guitar. He would practice every day, trying to perfect his reggae style. On his tewlfth birthday he got his first guitar. Living in Long Beach he got a healthy dose of many diverse genres of music. He got into other styles of music like punk rock. This started a brand new genre of music. From the time Brad got his first guitar, he started writing his own songs. At age thirteen he started his first band called Hogans Heroes but the band didn't last very long
In 1986, Brad graduated from high school and went to college at U.C. Santa Cruz. He went to school there for three years, but he dropped out to focus on music. At about this time Brad found another musical love, hip hop. His mix of hip hop, reggae, punk, ska, dub, funk, and heavy metal seemed to be a product of the Long Beach youth. His college friend Eric Wilson, the bass player, and Brad decided to form a side band. Along with Bud Gaugh, the drummer and Lou Brad's Dalmatian, they formed a band called Sublime .
Sublime was known as "The Garage Punk Band that Nobody Liked, but Everybody Wanted to Have Play at Their Party," playing at local clubs, college campuses, and backyards, Sublime quickly became the most popular band in the Southern California area. They would play in exchange for free beer. The money they made was also spent on beer and pot.
Brad and his friend Michael "Miguel" Happoldt, who was at the time in his own band named Ziggens, started a record label called records. Occasionally Brad would let the Ziggens open for Sublime. The two first released some demo tapes from the Ziggens. Each band's demo tapes were distributed at shows and local record stores. The most popular of these demo songs was "Jah Won't Pay the Bills." Brad wanted to go out and tour with all of his new material, but drummer Bud Gaugh decided to go into drug rehabilitation. Two years later SUBLIME started recording their first album. "40.oz of Freedom" was Sublime's first CD. Kelly Vargas sat in on the drums for the absent Gaugh. Sublime would sell the record out of the trunk of their car. They sold 60,000 copies this way. They were absolutely enormous in Southen California by now. Despite the recent success of Sublime , the band still hadn't landed a record deal. A desperate Brad Nowell went to find a record deal, and was rejected the first time. Brad didn't know what to do. He looked to all the greatest rock stars of the past. The only difference between himself and them was one that would destroy his life: They all did heroin. Brad started a two year "experiment," where he would shoot heroin to boost his creativity.
In 1994 Sublime came out with their second album entitled "Robbin' the 'Hood." A local radio station bought a copy of Sublime's original CD, "40.oz to Freedom," and played the song "Date Rape." The song was a huge hit, and MCA records asked the band to come in for a meeting and possible record deal. This was the break Brad had been waiting for. Sublime arrived at MCA records, along with their drummer Bud Gaugh, back from rehab. The band came to the record company, drunk. They waited three hours for their meeting. In that time they were rude and obnoxious, and Lou, the Dalmation, defecated on the floor. They also came out with a new record deal.
Brad's dream had come true. During one of his tours he met a girl named Troy Dendekker. He and Troy started dating. When Troy was around, Brad would just glow. He would always call Troy up to the stage, to show off what he had. In June of 1995 their son, Jakob James Nowell, was born. It seemed that his life was going wonderfully.
In early 1996 Sublime went to record their self-entitled album, but the pressure of making the album was too much. Brad's heroin problem was getting out of control. He put himself into rehab to clean up his life for Troy and Jakob. After six months, Brad came back home clean. He was once again in control of his life, and he was ready to finish his album.
With Brad's life finally back in check, and his engagement to Troy, Brad was very happy. As the new year rolled in, Brad celebrated with the band and his friends. He brought in the new year by shooting up heroin. Once again back with his family, and on May 18, 1996 Brad was married to Troy. Two days after the marriage, Sublime went on tour. On May 24th Sublime had just played a show in Petaluma, CA. He called Troy and told her how well the show had gone, and how happy he was. That was the last time Troy ever spoke to Brad.
The next day, on May 25, 1996 Sublime was ready to leave for the next tour city. They went to Brad's hotel room and knocked. No answer. The door was opened.(Whether it was locked or not has not yet been disclosed.) Brad's Dalmation, Lou, ran over to where Brad was lying on the floor, and licked his face. Brad had died of a heroin overdose, just hours after speaking with his wife.
The self-entitled album, Sublime, which was released after the death of Brad Nowell, sold 3.5 million albums, and made the band millions of dollars, which was all Brad had wanted. Now the remaining members of the original group have started a new group called THE LONG BEACH DUB ALL-STARS.
R.I.P. Bradley James Nowell R.I.P.
February 22, 1968-May 25, 1996