In the early 1990s, Sublime emerged on the music scene, offering a refreshing twist amid the grunge wave. Unlike the heavy guitar-driven angst, Sublime’s music was a mix of Cali-reggae-punk, inviting everyone to join in the celebration. Comprising Bradley Nowell, Bud Gaugh, and Eric Wilson, the band’s journey began in 1988, playing at backyard gatherings and selling cassettes out of their car. Their official debut at a club in July 1988 marked the start of something special.
Skunk Records and “Date Rape”
Nowell and Miguel Happoldt launched Skunk Records, the label that released Sublime’s first single, “Date Rape,” in 1991, setting the stage for their musical journey. June 1992 saw the release of their iconic album, “40 oz. to Freedom,” praised by Pitchfork as a musical masterpiece of the ’90s. However, the album’s true acclaim soared after Nowell’s tragic demise from a heroin overdose on May 25, 1996.
A Heartbreaking Farewell
Nowell’s passing at the tender age of 28 was a heart-wrenching loss. He left behind not only a legacy in music but also a new family. His son, Jakob, born on June 25, 1995, celebrated his first birthday without his father, who had passed away a month earlier. The situation was compounded by the fact that Nowell had just married his son’s mother, Troy Dendekker, a week before his untimely departure.
Dendekker shared her perspective, revealing the struggle with Nowell’s battle against addiction. She expressed, “The addiction had taken him to a point where he needed to fight for himself. It was a difficult time, and I was upset. We went through a tragedy together. Even now, Bradley’s music continues to bless us. I believe Bradley was exhausted, and the fight was becoming too much for him.”