Sublime played their first gig on July 4, 1988, in Long Beach. A new live album, 3 Ring Circus: Live At the Palace—October 21, 1995, marks the occasion, growing the reggae-punk act's posthumous catalog to Tupac-like proportions.
Though the original incarnation of the band hasn't existed since Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose in 1996, they are still an integral part of people's everyday lives, especially those in the surf, skate and punk communities. To get a deeper sense of why Sublime's music endures, we talked to a few people whose lives were touched by the band's songs. A few of the best responses are below.
Co-owner of Vulture Vintage, Hermosa Beach punk aficionado
My first memory of really being into Sublime was when I was 16. My dad was teaching me how to drive a stick-shift. He got me a 1964 red bug. I grabbed one of the CDs in it, and it was Sublime's Robbin' the Hood. I remember playing that CD over and over in that car. It's just a good highlight of life, remembering those times in that car with that album.
Manager of E.T. Surf, Hermosa Beach
We play [Sublime] all the time in the shop. To this day, it's one of those things you listen to, like Led Zeppelin, that never gets old. Basically, it's like surf and roots culture. They mixed music into the surf community and created a kind of bond that hadn't been there since the old days.
Besides NOFX, Pennywise and a lot of the old-school hardcore punk, that was what surfers were listening to. That was the other thing—the mellower California vibe. Something to help you identify with Southern California and the surf scene.
Lead vocalist/guitarist for Slightly Stoopid
We met Brad and all the guys from Sublime when we were 15, 16 years old. Those guys took us under their wing. . . . That might have been '94. . . . Brad and Miguel [Happoldt] had invited us up to this place called the Foothill Tavern in Long Beach. It was an old, punk-rock biker bar, just a place where we would play shows. After the gig, Brad came up to me and [band mate] Kyle [McDonald] and asked if we wanted to make a record on [his label] Skunk Records.
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Our first couple records were off Skunk. We were just little kids trying to figure it out, looking up and going, "Holy shit" at the guy we grew up listening to and idolized. It was such a cool thing to happen to a couple of kids from Ocean Beach.
Sublime endure because of the way, lyrically, Brad would make you feel. People can relate so much to that Southern California culture he spit out. It was refreshing because it was new. Just like Nirvana helped to change from the hair-metal stage to the grunge rock of the '90s, Sublime did the same thing, changing the whole grunge sound. . . . When you're a musician like that, it's timeless; it'll last forever.
Lead vocalist for Sublime
An excerpt from a letter written by Nowell to Jean-Christophe Kay of the Toyes, who wrote Sublime's hit "Smoke Two Joints." We've left Nowell's spelling intact: "It's been over a decade since I first heard your song 'Smoke 2 Joints' on K-ROQ in LA. I dug the tune but then they stoped playin' it so I've only heard it once or twice since then. We jammed the tune when Sublime hooked up in 88. Mabey we could rock out together next time we are up in Oregan. . . . I'm looking forward to sharing some of that super Oregan green w/y'all. Sorry this letter got so long, I'm stoned to the bone at the moment. The main thing I wanted to say was thanx for being cool too about the . . . cover we did on 40 oz. Everybody else that we covered, or in some instances sampled, demanded mass cash or, as w/'RAW HIDE', said we strait up can't use their shit and must take it off the album or else face some funky law suit. Kinda makes ya wanna just go burn the fern, eh vern? Got any? Musicians gotta stick togeather and stick it to the corporate pig useless shitbag fucks who can all suck my ass."