It’s hard to believe that it’s been a quarter century since a band from the LBC became the soundtrack of a generation. Alongside Bradley Nowell were Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson. The trio went on an epic journey that took their sound from Cherry Street to Main Street in what seemed like a blink of an eye. Luckily for all of us, the legend that is Sublime was born.
We first got a glimpse at their magic in 1992 with their debut album, “40 oz. to freedom.” That album gave us hits like “Smoke Two Joints,” “Badfish,” and “Date Rape,” which put them on the map with heavy rotation at the World Famous KROQ. The locals literally lost their minds over Sublime and their music.
With airplay on MTV, VH-1 and Request Video in SoCal, the Sublime sound was taking off. With genre elements from icons like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh driving the sonic bus, the Specials brought home the ska vibe while the Beastie’s flare and supersonic soul helped developed their signature sound. Bottom line, Sublime’s sound was like nothing we had ever heard before.
Their 1994 follow-up “Robbin’ the Hood” did very well with other staples such as “Saw Red,” which featured another local soon-to-be legend, Gwen Steffani. But it was the ’96 eponymous album that created a monster. Anyone who lived through those times will tell you, their influence and seeing them live was not only surreal, but it was nearly a religious experience.
“Sublime” was their third studio album and it remains maybe one of the greatest albums ever of the genre. Twenty five years later songs like “What I Got,” “Wrong Way,” “April 29, 1992,” “Santeria,” “Jail House,” “Pawn Shop,” “Burritos,” “Caress Me Down,” and “Doin’ Time” are still being played on the radio. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well… countless bands have covered songs from their music catalog.
Tragically, Nowell died in 1996 of a heroin overdose. For most legends, the story ends there. You know, the music being their legacy. For Bradley, his music lives on through recordings and the current incarnation of Sublime with Rome. But, it’s his spirit that has brought the love and respect that fans have for Bradley to life. As a result, we have the Nowell Family Foundation.
Despite their loss and pain, over the years, the Nowell family has sought ways to help others avoid the tragedy of drug overdose. While working with longtime family friend Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins, who helped Jakob Nowell (Bradley’s son) get clean and sober, the plan to create The Nowell Family Foundation evolved. As Papa Nowell says, “We have finally found something we truly believe in doing – and that’s helping others who are struggling with addiction.” Kellie, who is actively involved as the foundation’s executive director, is dedicated to the growth of the foundation and to ensuring its stability, allowing it to serve others for many years to come.
There’s more, the Foundation has grown by leaps and bounds since it was organized. As mentioned, Bradley’s sister is the Executive Director, but there’s more to it than that. Kellie has been an active and selfless leader in the fight against drugs in the music world. After losing Bradley, she’s taken a stand against drugs and has become a voice in the community. This topic has been near and dear to her heart and her efforts show and making a difference in the lives of so many.
The Nowell Family Foundation is raising funds to open Bradley’s House, a six-bed recovery facility that will provide treatment for people in the music industry with opiate addiction, regardless of their financial situation. The goal is to offer a top level of clinical care, including medical detox and the ability to treat the most acute cases, through nationwide partnerships.
Also joining to help the cause, LAW Records released “The House That Bradley Built,” compilation. The album features many of Bradley’s friends, and musicians that were inspired by his music. The album is doing well, but can always use a little more push.
TO PICK UP THE ALBUM
This year, Kellie Nowell put together a fundraiser for her birthday through Facebook. Another selfless act that will benefit the foundation.
TO DONATE TO KELLIE’S FUNDRAISER
There will also be an online auction held from September 22-September 29 to raise funds for all the work that the Nowell foundation does.
These auctions always include some great items from musician friends of Bradley’s, or musicians that are fans of Sublime. They like to help pay their respects to Bradley and his family and help support recovering musicians from drug addiction.
You can help in a variety of ways, even something as simple as linking your Amazon Smile account to give to Bradley’s House, or picking up a shirt or socks from the Foundation’s page.