During its existence, Sublime released three albums, played countless live shows, and served as a crucial source of inspiration to a generation of bands. The rise of the hard-working, hard-partying trio from Long Beach, California preceded a flood of young West Coast combos who emulated their free-spirited, organically eclectic, hardcore-dancehall-metal-funk fusion. However, Sublime effortlessly stood out from the countless punk retreads and ska revivalists that littered the alt-rock landscape, thanks to the band’s adventurous, experimental musical sensibility and the personally charged, emotionally complex songwriting of leader Bradley James Nowell.
Singer/guitarist Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh formed Sublime in 1988. Early on, they began mixing rockist aggression with ska, reggae and hip-hop beats, giving the trio a swinging rhythmic sensibility that was still unusual at the time. Sublime’s precedent-setting work expanded the boundaries of modern rock, but Nowell’s death in May 1996 prematurely closed the door on the band and robbed the world of an artist who’d yet to fulfill his creative potential.