Peer Reviews

Other musicians have a few Brad Nowell stories to tell

BUD GAUGH: 'I Think About Brad Every Day, Regardless of Where I Am At'

Sublime's origins were as effortless and as intrinsic to Long Beach as their music was. Floyd "Bud" Gaugh, the drummer for Sublime (and now Sublime With Rome) and bassist Eric Wilson were childhood friends who grew up across the alley from each other; Wilson knew Nowell from sixth grade as a neighborhood kid. He introduced Gaugh to Nowell while they were in college, and the trio started jamming.

What Gaugh likes to remember now about Nowell is "how much fun he was to be with, on- or off-stage. Brad was the type who liked to enjoy life all the time."

In talking about the late, great Nowell, one thing that always came up was how crazy Sublime was as a trio, the chaos that surrounded them and how you never knew what you were going to get when they were around. "I think about Brad every day, regardless of where I am at," Gaugh says. "He was a great friend and is truly missed in my life. I know he is proud of Eric and me in our professional and personal lives."

Gaugh, who had the shock of discovering Nowell's body in their shared hotel room the day the singer OD'ed on heroin ("He and I were sharing a room that night; I found him the next morning on the bed next to mine"), says that if Nowell were still alive, "I know we would be still playing great music with him today."

When asked about Nowell's musical legacy, Gaugh says, "Brad was a superstar of a front man and musician. But it took input from all three of us to create the music that is Sublime, so our musical legacy is the great music that will withstand the test of time. It transcends generational and social barriers, and it is music that just about everyone can relate to. I have often heard of it being referred to as the 'soundtrack to our lives,' as the 'anthem that got me through school' and has 'helped me get through the toughest of times' from others. Our songs are classic in the sense that they have no real genre and will last forever."(Lilledeshan Bose)

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MICHAEL "MIGUEL" HAPPOLDT: 'I Learned a Lot From That Guy, and I Sneak Some of That Stuff Into What I Do'
"I think the success would've really helped Brad get on the right path," says Michael "Miguel" Happoldt, Sublime's producer, manager and friend, whose voice was immortalized in the band's "Scarlet Begonias" track from Sublime's 1992 debut, 40 oz. to Freedom. Released on Skunk Records (which Happoldt ran with Nowell), the album contained "Date Rape," a song played obsessively on KROQ two years later, which helped put Sublime on the Soundscan alternative chart for 70 straight weeks.

"When you're dealing with addiction, you just never know, but I think a lot of Brad's struggle was he never really tasted big success," Happoldt says. "We were selling thousand-seaters, and we're grateful for that, but to know they were playing our stuff on the radio would've just been a sense of accomplishment for him."

Like others who knew Nowell personally, Happoldt says the album Sublime would've made after their self-titled, major-label release would've been unbelievable had Nowell lived. "He would've taken it more seriously, and he would've felt an obligation to rise to the occasion. It would've been one of the greatest records of all time."

Happoldt remembers Sublime as an unparalleled improvisational live band, a completely free-spirited act. "It was anything goes," he says. "We were lucky to be at a sustainable level—paying our bills, having fun, progressing. That was enough for us, and that was the amount of success Brad was able to taste."

Happoldt vividly describes the day Nowell died. The band were doing a mini-tour of the California coast before a European tour. They traveled in a motor home, and to save money, the band would get a motel room and switch off staying in the motor home with the dogs. "Me and Eric Wilson were in the motor home that night. Brad and Bud Gaugh were in the room, and Bud had the shock and horror of finding him," he recalls. "[Gaugh] ran and got us, and we tried to our best to revive him. We took turns with mouth-to-mouth, trying to revive him until the cops came, but it was too late."

At the time, no one knew Sublime's sound was going to give birth to a classic, iconic Southern California sound, reinventing the reggae/punk rock/ska fusion. "To say then that we'd get this big was a long shot," he says. "The public was really slow to warm up to Brad's vision of the sound."

Nowell had an uncanny sense for making music, Happoldt says. "Really, what I miss the most about him was that he was really sure of what he wanted to do, musically. He was very adamant about how his music was recorded, produced, presented. Brad had no ProTools, no Auto-Tune, no time-stretching. If we wanted to do any of that shit back in the day, it was called 'Do it again.' He was a maverick. We had to do it all by hand. We had to let a couple of little flaws in there rather than redo the whole thing. It was funner, it was realer, and that's why the music hasn't aged."

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I grew up listening to Sublime and Slightly Stoopid. Bradley Nowell created music that I could just sit and listen to and be truly happy, music that I will never get tired of listening to.


awesome. miss brad and lou ;(


Reading this made me cry. Sublime has had such an influence on people and music. Its the ultimate socal band. Imagine what they could have done had he lived. The greatest tribute to Brad is to keep listening to the music so that he, and it, live forever in us.

Melissa Vasquez
Melissa Vasquez

This article leaves me in awe. It's amazing how much of an impact Sublime has had and I can hear the influence through every performance I've seen of Slightly Stoopid. These guys really appreciate good music and culture, just another reason why I never miss a Stoopid show!!! The Sublime legacy lives on.

Brandy Johnson
Brandy Johnson

bradley and Sublime changed my life and the way i listen to music forever! I was in a violent and very abusive marriage when I first found Sublime in 92! I used to put on one of their Cd's and let the music take me away from my problems. I think i would have killed myself without brad and my headphones!! I was inconsolable when Brad died for so many reasons and I just wanted to say Thanks to everyone who helped make that wonderful music that saved my life


This is really sick....Bradley Nowell was truly an inspiration and his music will live on forever. His ability to fuse so many genres of music so well with so much soul and raw passion was insane. Its awesome to see how much Miles and Kyle really appreciated Sublime. I remember when I was back in high school and met Miles Doughty in Street Scene in San Diego one of the questions I asked him was, "Man how sick was it playing with Brad"...and he said "Man it was some of the greatest times of my life"...His influence truly shows in Slightly Stoopids music and its great to get to seem them carry the torch and do it just as well as Sublime did. Jah Bless


Awesome interview. Speechless. The Sublime and Brad legacy will always live on and I'm glad Slightly can continue to grow and spread the culture of California.


Bradley is a god! Left us with great music and Slightly Stoopid. All I can do is thank him for that.

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