Happy 45th Birthday, Bradley Nowell

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Bradley (left) with Lou Dog
this isn’t my photo, don’t sue me, just email me.

Today Bradley Nowell of Sublime fame would have turned 45. Even though Brad passed away back in ’96, every 90’s kid still loves Sublime and will probably never stop. For many, Sublime is what opened the door to reggae. Of course, Bob Marley will always be the poster child of the genre. But Sublime caught new listeners’ ears by encompassing a wide range of reggae classics, originals, dubs, and often forgotten proto-hardcore punk tracks. I still have my “Second Hand Smoke” cassette somewhere in a shoebox with my old Walkman…

While the rest of Sublime, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh (Now Long Beach Dub Allstars) are fantastic, it was really Nowell’s personality and energy that attracted so many people to the band, and ultimately resulted in its demise. It seems cliche, but Bradley and Sublime are a perfect example of how a magnetic individual notorious for drug and alcohol abuse can shine bright for a brief moment, and then burn out quickly. We’ve seen it with so many others, and it never gets less sad, but when you go back and listen to Sublime, there’s no way to be bummed out because that crazy fool is just so goddamn happy on the track – even the ones about his friends turning into Nazis, heroin addiction, poverty, getting used and dumped, and pulling bugs out of your weed. No doubt Nowell went through some horrific lows, but he was kind enough to share his highs with the world, and for that we’re eternally grateful. So Happy Birthday, Brad, smoke two joints in Heaven for us.

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