Bradley Nowell

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Bradley Nowell_table_infobox_0

Bradley NowellBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_2_0 Bradley James NowellBradley Nowell_cell_0_2_1
BornBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_3_0 (1968-02-22)February 22, 1968

Long Beach, California, U.S.Bradley Nowell_cell_0_3_1

DiedBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_4_0 May 25, 1996(1996-05-25) (aged 28)

San Francisco, California, U.S.Bradley Nowell_cell_0_4_1

GenresBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_5_0 Bradley Nowell_cell_0_5_1
Occupation(s)Bradley Nowell_header_cell_0_6_0 Bradley Nowell_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_7_0 Bradley Nowell_cell_0_7_1
Years activeBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_8_0 1981–1996Bradley Nowell_cell_0_8_1
LabelsBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_9_0 Bradley Nowell_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsBradley Nowell_header_cell_0_10_0 Bradley Nowell_cell_0_10_1

Bradley James Nowell (February 22, 1968 – May 25, 1996) was an American musician and the lead singer and guitarist of the ska punk band Sublime. Bradley Nowell_sentence_0

Born and raised in Belmont Shore, Long Beach, California, Nowell developed an interest in music at a young age. Bradley Nowell_sentence_1

His father took him on a trip to Jamaica during his childhood years, which exposed him to reggae and dancehall music; he then gained a strong interest in rock music once he learned how to play guitar. Bradley Nowell_sentence_2

Nowell played in various bands until forming Sublime with bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, whom he had met while attending California State University at Long Beach. Bradley Nowell_sentence_3

In his lifetime, Sublime released the albums 40oz. Bradley Nowell_sentence_4 to Freedom and Robbin' the Hood to critical and commercial success. Bradley Nowell_sentence_5

Throughout the band's career, Nowell struggled with a worsening addiction to heroin. Bradley Nowell_sentence_6

He eventually became sober after his son Jakob was born, but relapsed and died of a heroin overdose in 1996 in a San Francisco hotel while Sublime was on tour. Bradley Nowell_sentence_7

Sublime released their self-titled third album two months after Nowell's death, and has subsequently released several compilation albums featuring the hundreds of songs he recorded throughout his life. Bradley Nowell_sentence_8

Nowell remains an influential figure of the 1990s alternative era in his legacy. Bradley Nowell_sentence_9

Biography Bradley Nowell_section_0

Early life Bradley Nowell_section_1

Bradley Nowell and his sister, Kellie, were born and raised in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach, California to Jim and Nancy Nowell. Bradley Nowell_sentence_10

As a child, he enjoyed surfing and sailing, often participating in boat races. Bradley Nowell_sentence_11

Nowell became a difficult child and was often hyperactive and disruptive; his mother recalled that he was "very emotional, very sensitive, very artistic, but he was needy...He was always testing just to see what he could get away with". Bradley Nowell_sentence_12

After his parents' divorce when he was 10, Nowell's behavior worsened. Bradley Nowell_sentence_13

His mother was originally awarded custody, but found him too difficult to control, and at the age of 10 he moved in full-time with his father. Bradley Nowell_sentence_14

Music was an integral part of Nowell's upbringing on the part of both of his parents. Bradley Nowell_sentence_15

His father, a construction worker, enjoyed playing guitar and exposed him to the music of Jim Croce; his mother taught piano for a living in addition to playing the flute. Bradley Nowell_sentence_16

Both parents helped teach young Nowell to play the guitar. Bradley Nowell_sentence_17

In the summer of 1979, 11 year old Nowell accompanied his father on a month-long sailing trip in the Virgin Islands, where he was first exposed to reggae music. Bradley Nowell_sentence_18

By the age of 16, he started his first band, Hogan's Heroes, with Michael Yates and Eric Wilson. Bradley Nowell_sentence_19

Nowell was described as a "gifted kid with many friends". Bradley Nowell_sentence_20

At first, Wilson did not share Nowell's interest in reggae music. Bradley Nowell_sentence_21

Nowell recalled the experience: "I was trying to get them to do (UB40's version of) 'Cherry Oh Baby', and it didn't work. Bradley Nowell_sentence_22

They tried, but it just sounded like such garbage. Bradley Nowell_sentence_23

We were horrible". Bradley Nowell_sentence_24

Nowell attended the University of California, Santa Cruz before transferring to California State University, Long Beach to study finance. Bradley Nowell_sentence_25

While at Cal State Long Beach, Nowell received good grades, appearing on the Dean's List in 1990. Bradley Nowell_sentence_26

However, he dropped out one semester shy of earning a degree, stating in 1995, "I have all the hard classes left...I doubt I'll ever go back". Bradley Nowell_sentence_27

Sublime Bradley Nowell_section_2

According to a Westwood One interview (which can be found on disc three of the Sublime box set), in 1988 Nowell got together with bassist Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, performing in small shows at house parties and barbecues. Bradley Nowell_sentence_28

The band was often asked to leave the parties due to excessive noise. Bradley Nowell_sentence_29

Sublime gained a reputation for their rowdy behavior and eventually became one of the most popular bands in Southern California. Bradley Nowell_sentence_30

Despite their local success, music venues were skeptical of the band's eclectic musical fusion and many refused to book the band. Bradley Nowell_sentence_31

In response, Nowell and Wilson created their own music label, Skunk Records, telling venues they were "Skunk Records recording artists", helping the band seem more accomplished and enabling them to book more shows. Bradley Nowell_sentence_32

The band produced and distributed Sublime's early recordings on the label, later selling demo tapes at shows and local record stores. Bradley Nowell_sentence_33

In 1990, music student Michael "Miguel" Happoldt offered to let the band record in the studio at the school where he was studying, although without the school's knowledge. Bradley Nowell_sentence_34

The band agreed, then sneaked into the school at night, where they recorded from midnight to seven in the morning. Bradley Nowell_sentence_35

That recording session resulted in the popular cassette tape Jah Won't Pay the Bills, released in 1991. Bradley Nowell_sentence_36

The tape helped the band gain a grassroots following throughout Southern California. Bradley Nowell_sentence_37

It was during this time that Nowell became involved with drugs. Bradley Nowell_sentence_38

For years, Nowell refused to try heroin; however, as he entered his twenties and witnessed his band's success, he decided to try the drug. Bradley Nowell_sentence_39

Nowell's father explained, "His excuse for taking the heroin was that he felt like he had to be larger than life. Bradley Nowell_sentence_40

He was leading the band, leading his fans, and he had to put on this persona. Bradley Nowell_sentence_41

He heard a lot of musicians say they were taking heroin to be more creative". Bradley Nowell_sentence_42

Using the same tactics they used in recording Jah Won't Pay the Bills, the band recorded its debut album 40oz. Bradley Nowell_sentence_43 to Freedom in secrecy at the studios at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Bradley Nowell_sentence_44

Nowell recalled, "You weren't supposed to be in there after 9 p.m., but we'd go in at 9:30 and stay until 5 in the morning. Bradley Nowell_sentence_45

We'd just hide from the security guards. Bradley Nowell_sentence_46

They never knew we were there. Bradley Nowell_sentence_47

We managed to get $30,000 worth of studio time for free". Bradley Nowell_sentence_48

40oz. Bradley Nowell_sentence_49

to Freedom was released in 1992; 60,000 copies were sold. Bradley Nowell_sentence_50

Despite their growing popularity in Southern California, Sublime still was not signed with a major label. Bradley Nowell_sentence_51

Around this same time Nowell teamed up with longtime friend Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, to record the song "Saw Red". Bradley Nowell_sentence_52

The song was eventually released on Sublime's Robbin' the Hood album, which was self-recorded on a four-track cassette, and released in October 1994. Bradley Nowell_sentence_53

Several songs from the album detail Nowell's worsening drug addiction. Bradley Nowell_sentence_54

Nowell is said by some to have predicted his own death in the song "Pool Shark", with the line, "One day I'm gonna lose the war". Bradley Nowell_sentence_55

About a year later, Tazy Phillipz took a copy of 40oz. Bradley Nowell_sentence_56

to Freedom to Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM, requesting that Sublime's song "Date Rape" be added to the playlist. Bradley Nowell_sentence_57

Soon after, MCA Records picked up 40oz. Bradley Nowell_sentence_58

to Freedom for national distribution, and Sublime was scheduled to tour throughout Europe. Bradley Nowell_sentence_59

Nowell, an avid reader who enjoyed quoting historians and philosophers, began studying European history to prepare for the trip. Bradley Nowell_sentence_60

Attention from a major label did not curb Nowell's drug use, which sometimes led him to pawn his instruments and sell drugs, as reflected in the song "Pawn Shop". Bradley Nowell_sentence_61

In February 1996, Sublime returned to the studio to record the bulk of their self-titled album, which would be their debut with MCA. Bradley Nowell_sentence_62

Production was done by Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers (and producer of Marcy Playground and Meat Puppets) at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio in Austin, Texas. Bradley Nowell_sentence_63

Death Bradley Nowell_section_3

Nowell married Troy Dendekker on May 18, 1996. Bradley Nowell_sentence_64

Seven days later, on the morning of May 25, Sublime was set to begin a five-day tour through Northern California, followed by a European and East Coast tour. Bradley Nowell_sentence_65

However, while the band was staying at the Ocean View Motel in San Francisco, drummer Bud Gaugh awoke to find Nowell lying on the floor next to his bed. Bradley Nowell_sentence_66

His dalmatian, Lou Dog, was curled up on the bed whimpering. Bradley Nowell_sentence_67

Nowell had tried awakening his fellow bandmates to go to the beach with him that morning, but they were too hung-over and tired to get out of bed. Bradley Nowell_sentence_68

Initially, Gaugh assumed that Nowell was too intoxicated to get into bed. Bradley Nowell_sentence_69

However, he noticed a yellow film around his mouth, and it became apparent that he had overdosed on heroin. Bradley Nowell_sentence_70

Gaugh called for paramedics, but Nowell had died several hours earlier and was pronounced dead at the scene. Bradley Nowell_sentence_71

Nowell was cremated and his ashes were spread over his favorite surfing spot in Surfside, California. Bradley Nowell_sentence_72

A headstone was placed at Westminster Memorial in Westminster, California, in his memory. Bradley Nowell_sentence_73

Eight months after Nowell's death, No Doubt headlined a "cautionary" benefit concert in honor of his memory. Bradley Nowell_sentence_74

Nowell's widow wanted to make it clear that the goal of the concert was not to glamorize his death, but rather to promote drug awareness and prevention among fans. Bradley Nowell_sentence_75

Proceeds from the concert were given to a non-profit offering support for musicians struggling with drug addiction, as well as a scholarship fund for Nowell's son, Jakob. Bradley Nowell_sentence_76

On January 11, 1997, a Los Angeles Times article titled "Cautionary Concert in Rocker's Memory", writer Jerry Crowe quoted No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal as saying, "Obviously, it's going to be very emotional because you're there playing a show to commemorate a good friend who died and died for very wrong reasons. Bradley Nowell_sentence_77

But you're also there to change things for the future and prevent stuff like that from ever happening again. Bradley Nowell_sentence_78

A lot of times we hear about musicians using drugs and it's so blasé and clichéd. Bradley Nowell_sentence_79

You just kind of say, 'Oh, he'll be fine. Bradley Nowell_sentence_80

Somebody will take care of him.' Bradley Nowell_sentence_81

But that's not true. Bradley Nowell_sentence_82

It's important for every single one of us to stand up and say, 'Enough of this shit.' Bradley Nowell_sentence_83

It's time to make a difference". Bradley Nowell_sentence_84

Jason Westfall, one of Sublime's managers, was quoted as saying the surviving members of Sublime had no interest in continuing to perform and record under the "Sublime" name: "Just like Nirvana, Sublime died when Brad died." Bradley Nowell_sentence_85

Sublime played their last show at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, California. Bradley Nowell_sentence_86

In late 2010 and early 2011, the remaining band members, along with Rome Ramirez, began touring under the name Sublime with Rome. Bradley Nowell_sentence_87

Post-death Bradley Nowell_section_4

Sublime's final album was released on July 30, 1996. Bradley Nowell_sentence_88

Its original title, Killin' It, was replaced by the eponymous title, Sublime. Bradley Nowell_sentence_89

By 1997, the album entered Billboard's Top 20, with the largely acoustic single, "What I Got", becoming the number one song on the Modern Rock chart. Bradley Nowell_sentence_90

The album produced three more radio hits: "Santeria", "Wrong Way", and "Doin' Time". Bradley Nowell_sentence_91

The accompanying music videos for "Santeria", "What I Got", and "Wrong Way" received heavy rotation on MTV, with previously filmed footage of Nowell performing live intercut into the video. Bradley Nowell_sentence_92

The footage which was used came mostly from shows in 1996. Bradley Nowell_sentence_93

Sublime became one of the most successful American rock acts of 1997. Bradley Nowell_sentence_94

Rolling Stone reported in March 2010 that the album Sublime had sold over 6 million copies. Bradley Nowell_sentence_95

In 2009, Gaugh and Wilson teamed up with Rome Ramirez to form Sublime with Rome after an attempt to reform "Sublime" was blocked by Nowell's estate. Bradley Nowell_sentence_96

The new band plays all of Sublime's original songs except for "Caress Me Down", which Rome refuses to play out of respect for Nowell - as it is sung from his perspective (the lyrics with "me llamo Bradley"). Bradley Nowell_sentence_97

The band also records original music; their 2011 debut album Yours Truly is dedicated to Nowell. Bradley Nowell_sentence_98

The trio stuck together until 2011, when bandmate Bud Gaugh decided to leave the band. Bradley Nowell_sentence_99

The current entourage is Rome Ramirez, Eric Wilson, and Carlos Verdugo. Bradley Nowell_sentence_100

Personal life Bradley Nowell_section_5

Marriage and fatherhood Bradley Nowell_section_6

While on tour in the early 1990s, Nowell began dating Troy Dendekker. Bradley Nowell_sentence_101

In October 1994, Troy became pregnant, giving birth to a son, Jakob James Nowell, on June 25, 1995. Bradley Nowell_sentence_102

On May 18, 1996, a week before Nowell died, the couple married in a Hawaiian-themed ceremony in Las Vegas. Bradley Nowell_sentence_103

Lou Dog Bradley Nowell_section_7

In February 1990, Nowell purchased a dalmatian puppy from an old man for $500, and named him "Louie" after his grandfather. Bradley Nowell_sentence_104

Also referred to as "Lou Dog", he became a mascot for the band Sublime. Bradley Nowell_sentence_105

Lou Dog was often allowed to wander the stage during concert performances. Bradley Nowell_sentence_106

Louie was also often featured on the cover of Sublime albums, and was referred to in the lyrics of Sublime songs. Bradley Nowell_sentence_107

In Sublime's most successful radio track, "What I Got", Nowell sings, "...livin' with Louie Dog's the only way to stay sane". Bradley Nowell_sentence_108

Another prominent song of the band, "Garden Grove", mentions Lou Dog as such: "We took this trip to Garden Grove. Bradley Nowell_sentence_109

It smelled like Lou dog inside the van, oh yeah". Bradley Nowell_sentence_110

In the song "Doin' Time" Nowell can be heard singing: "All the people in the dance will agree That we're well qualified to represent the LBC Me, me and Louie run to the party Dance to the rhythm it gets harder" Bradley Nowell_sentence_111

Nowell would sometimes begin live songs by referencing Lou Dog, and can be heard on the live version of "Caress Me Down" from Stand By Your Van yelling "Everybody say Louie - 1,2,3 Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie!" Bradley Nowell_sentence_112

Nowell was known to invite his friends and their dogs over to film parodies of popular music videos; the dogs would pose as a band or an artist, dressed in corresponding costumes. Bradley Nowell_sentence_113

In the early 1990s, Lou Dog disappeared for a week but was soon returned to Nowell, who later covered the Camper Van Beethoven song "The Day That Lassie Went to the Moon", and changed it to "Lou Dog Went to the Moon". Bradley Nowell_sentence_114

Following Nowell's death in 1996, Lou Dog was cared for by Miguel, the band's manager. Bradley Nowell_sentence_115

Lou Dog died from old age on September 17, 2001. Bradley Nowell_sentence_116

Equipment Bradley Nowell_section_8

Guitars Bradley Nowell_section_9

Bradley Nowell_unordered_list_0

  • Dan MacDonald Custom Electric Guitar - Body based on a mix of a 1960s Vox Hurricane and a G&L 100 guitar — Ebony Fretboard — Fitted with a Floyd Rose Vibrato SystemBradley Nowell_item_0_0
  • Ibanez S-540 Electric Guitar - Smoke Black — Flame TopBradley Nowell_item_0_1
  • Ibanez S-470 BlueBradley Nowell_item_0_2
  • Ibanez S-540Bradley Nowell_item_0_3
  • Gibson Les PaulBradley Nowell_item_0_4

Nowell borrowed guitars many times from other bands. Bradley Nowell_sentence_117

Pedals Bradley Nowell_section_10

Bradley Nowell_unordered_list_1

  • Boss DD-3 Digital DelayBradley Nowell_item_1_5
  • Boss OS-2 Overdrive DistortionBradley Nowell_item_1_6
  • Whirlwind A/B SelectorBradley Nowell_item_1_7

Amps Bradley Nowell_section_11

Bradley Nowell_unordered_list_2

See also Bradley Nowell_section_12

Bradley Nowell_unordered_list_3

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Nowell.