Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, who died 15 years ago this month, left behind a legacy that is intrinsically tied to Long Beach and the rest of Orange County. This week's cover story pays tribute to the man who put Garden Grove on the map, who sang about the perils of date rape and invented the surf punk rock/reggae/ska hybrid that Southern California is now so famous for.
Ska Parade founder and radio personality Tazy Phyllipz talks about his memories of Nowell.
Sublime only played once on Live on Ska Parade, and it was the greatest live show the band ever did. Two songs made it on the Ska Parade compilation and that's what I gave to KROQ.
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His death was really a tragedy in the sense that it's a real bummer when a friend goes so young. He was at the happiest time of his life, and there really wasn't any reason things happen that way.
The positive side of things was when the band was actively touring they would do everything to burn their bridges--they were on the first Warped tour and it was my understanding that everyone went to (tour founder) Kevin Lyman and said, we're quitting this tour unless you kick these guys off.
The situation was always, "The guys from Sublime did WHAT? OK, how can we fix it?" And we had to fix it. For example, when they did Lovelines for the first time, Sublime showed up with enough alcohol for a huge party. That's a big no-no for a radio station so I got them to put all the alcohol in the men's bathroom outside the radio station. Every commercial break they were running from studio to the men's room, pounding alcohol. I thought they'd learned a lesson after that, but the next time they went, I'm listening to the show and they start lighting up with Jed the Fish--who's a recovering addict. And they got banned from airplay for two weeks after that.
When Bradley passed away, the band couldn't tour, and they couldn't go around pissing people off--and the strongest aspect of them were the songs. Musically that was fantastic, and that's what lasted.
Nowell's gift was he was able to take all these different elements--punk, reggae, ska--and make it his own. He had an amazing songwriting sense. In terms of third wave ska, the first bands you think of are No Doubt and Sublime.