In some ways, Sublime was vastly ahead of their time. In other ways, they were victims of the era in which they rose to fame.
Singer, guitarist and lyricist Bradley Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson, and drummer Bud Gaugh played their first gig as Sublime in 1988. Nowell augmented the punk sound of Wilson and Gaugh’s with ska, reggae and hip hop. Their first two albums flew under the national radar, but they garnered radio hits in the enormous California radio market and performed in 1995’s Warp Tour.
When the band went into the studio to make their third album, their back catalogue was beginning to sell nationwide. As the tracks for the third album were being mixed and pressed, the band embarked on a national tour. On May 25th, 1996, Gaugh woke up to find Nowell dead of a heroin overdose.
Their third album went platinum 5 times by 1999. Their blend of driving rock and hip hop set the tone for late 90’s rock, though the early exit of the heart of the band is reminiscent of the burn-out philosophy of the drug-addled grunge movement.