Sublime was an American ska-punk band that originated in Long Beach, California. Sublime consisted of three members: Bradley Nowell (vocals and guitar), Bud Gaugh (drums), and Eric Wilson (bass guitar). Former members include Joe Gomez (drums) and Michael Happoldt for a very short time (guitar). The band achieved major mainstream success with their self-titled third album; however, Nowell died of a heroin overdose in his hotel room on the west side of San Francisco shortly before it was released, resulting in the band’s split in 1996.
Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh were childhood friends, having grown up in the same Garden Grove neighborhood. Eric’s father Billy Wilson taught Gaugh how to read music and play the drums. Gaugh and Wilson together with future Sublime manager Michael Happoldt formed a three-piece punk band called The Juice Bros during their high school years. About this time, Bradley Nowell, who had recently dropped out of University of California, Santa Cruz, joined the band. Nowell helped introduce Gaugh and Wilson to reggae and ska, who at the time listened exclusively to punk rock.
Sublime played its first gig on the Fourth of July, 1988 in a small club, reportedly starting the “Peninsula Riot” in Harbor Peninsula which led to seven arrests. Music venues were skeptical of the band’s eclectic musical fusion and many refused to book the band. In response, the band created their own music label, Skunk Records, and told venues that they were “Skunk Records recording artists”, which helped the band seem more accomplished and subsequently book more shows. For the next several years, the group focused primarily on playing at parties and clubs throughout Southern California. The trio recorded a few songs and put forth a number of short demos.
In February 1990, Nowell adopted an abused dalmatian puppy from a shelter and named him “Louie” after his grandfather. Louie Nowell, King Louie, or “Lou Dog” as he was called, became something of a mascot for the band. Gaugh recalled that “Lou Dog just loved Brad because it was the first time he had ever actually been shown love.” Lou Dog was often allowed to wander around the stage during the band’s concert performances.
In late 1990, music student Michael “Miguel” Happoldt approached the band, offering to let the band record in the studio at the school where Happoldt was studying. The band enthusiastically agreed and trespassed into the school at night, where they recorded from midnight to seven in the morning. The recording session resulted in the popular cassette tape called Jah Won’t Pay the Bills, which was released in 1991 and featured songs that would later appear on the band’s future albums. The tape helped the band gain a grassroots following throughout Southern California.
Eventually, Sublime developed a large following in California. After concentrating on playing live shows, the band released 40 Oz. to Freedom in 1992 under Nowell’s label, Skunk Records. The record established Sublime’s blend of ska, reggae, punk, surf rock, and hip hop, and helped to further strengthen the group’s growing California following. Initially being sold exclusively at their live shows, the album became widely known in the greater Los Angeles area after rock radio station KROQ began playing the song, “Date Rape”.
In 1992/1993, Sublime was briefly signed to Danny Holloway’s True Sound imprint. However, the band stayed on Skunk Records and then in June 1994, they were signed to the label Gasoline Alley of MCA Records by Jon Phillips who subsequently became Sublime’s manager. Sublime released their second album Robbin’ the Hood in 1994, an experimental effort with its diffuse mixture of rock, rap, spoken-word nonsense and folk-leaning acoustic home recordings. Robbin’ the Hood was a commercial failure and did not produce any singles. The band toured extensively throughout 1994-1995, their popularity increasing gradually beyond the West Coast as “Date Rape” began earning radio play. In 1995, the band co-headlined the inaugural nationwide Vans Warped Tour. The band’s drug use led to tensions with the tour management as Gaugh was arrested several times for possessing marijuana. The band was eventually asked to leave the tour for a week due to unruly behavior after an incident in which Nowell’s dalmatian Lou Dog bit members of the audience. Gaugh reflected on the experience: “Basically, our daily regimen was wake up, drink, drink more, play, and then drink a lot more. We’d call people names. Nobody got our sense of humor. Then we brought the dog out and he bit a few skaters, and that was the last straw.” After the Warped Tour and the subsequent Three Ring Circus Tour, the band was pressured to begin producing new studio material as a follow-up to Robbin’ the Hood.
Early 1996 saw Sublime headline the very first SnoCore Tour. In February, they began recording what would comprise the band’s self-titled third record and their major label debut album. They completed it before Nowell died of a heroin overdose on May 25, 1996 at a motel in San Francisco, California,Â two months prior to the release. The album became a huge success, including the single “What I Got”, which made it to No.1 at the Modern Rock Chart.Â The album earned the band worldwide fame, and has since gone five-times platinum. In addition to “What I Got”, the album included several popular singles including “Santeria”, “Doin’ Time”, “Wrong Way” and “April 29, 1992 (Miami)”, all of which received heavy airplay.
Jason Westfall, one of Sublime’s managers, was quoted as saying that the surviving members of Sublime had no interest in continuing to perform and record under the “Sublime” name. “Just like Nirvana, Sublime died when Brad died”, Westfall said.
On 28 February 2009, Gaugh and Wilson reunited for a show in Nevada and called themselves Sublime; the singer and guitarist that joined Wilson and Gaugh onstage was Rome Ramirez, a then-20-year-old from Northern California. On August 31, 2009, it was announced that the reunited Sublime featuring new front-man Rome would be playing Cypress Hill’s Smokeout Festival on October 24 in San Bernardino, California.
Brad Nowell’s family and the executors of his estate threatened Gaugh and Wilson, along with Rome, with a lawsuit if the reconstituted band used the Sublime moniker.
On November 3, 2009, a Los Angeles judge shut down an effort by the new lineup to perform under the name. As part of the preliminary injunction, the new lineup were unable to perform or record under the name Sublime without approval and permission from the Nowell estate.
On January 22, 2010, a settlement was announced and the new incarnation of Sublime was named Sublime with Rome.
The band embarked on the Sublime with Rome Tour in 2010, and released an album of new material, Yours Truly in July 2011.
April 29, 1992 (Miami)
The song title refers to the date of the Los Angeles riots of 1992, of which news spread throughout the United States following the acquittal of four police officers accused in the videotaped beating of Rodney King.
The official title of the song references the date April 29, 1992, however the lyric is sung as, “April 26, 1992.” It has been said this was a mistake, but the take was strong enough the band kept it. When major cities began being referred to on the topic of anti-establishment riots, there is a background voice screaming a few smaller cities, the first being Boise, Idaho. The band often spoke about how much they enjoyed being in Boise and that they’d participated in a couple rioting acts in the small city. Theories have developed about the true integrity of the song’s lyrics. Many believe that the acts of crime including arson, robbery and vandalism referred to in the lyrics were actually perpetrated by some of the Sublime band members during the 1992 LA riots. However, certain details and locations were withheld in order to protect them from any possible prosecution.
I don’t know if you can,
but can you get an owner for Ons,
that’s O-N-S,Junior Market,
the address is 1934 East Aneheim,
all the windows are busted out,
and it’s like a free-for-all in here
and uh the owner shouldat least come
down here and see if he can secure his business,
if he wants to…
April 26th, 1992,
there was a riot on the streets,
tell me where were you?
You were sittin’ home watchin’ your TV,
while I was paticipatin’ in some anarchy.
First spot we hit it was my liqour store.
I finally got all that alcohol I can’t afford.
With red lights flashin’ time to retire,
And then we turned that liquor store into a structure fire.
Next stop we hit it was the music shop,
It only took one brick to make that window drop.
Finally we got our own p.a.
Where do you think I got this guitar that you’re hearing today?
(call fire, respond mobil station.
alamidos in Anahiem,
its uhh flamin up good.
10-4 Alamidos in Anaheim)
Never doin no time
When we returned to the pad to unload everything,
It dawned on me that I need new home furnishings.
So once again we filled the van until it was full,
since that day my livin’ room’s been more comfortable.
Cause everybody in the hood has had it up to here,
It’s getting harder and harder and harder each and every year.
Some kids went in a store with thier mother,
I saw her when she came out she was gettin some pampers.
They said it was for the black man,
they said it was for the mexican,
and not for the white man.
But if you look at the streets it wasn’t about Rodney King,
It’s bout this fucked up situation and these fucked up police.
It’s about coming up and staying on top
and screamin’ 187 on a mother fuckin’ cop.
It’s not written on the paper it’s on the wall.
Smoke from all around,
bo! bo! bo!
(units, units be advised there is an attempt 211 to arrest now at 938 temple,
938 temple… 30 subjects with bags.. tryin to get inside the cb’s house)
(as long as I’m alive, I’mma live illegal)
Let it burn, wanna let it burn,
wanna let it burn, wanna wanna let it burn
(I’m feelin’ Sad and Blue)
Riots on the streets of Miami,
oh, Riots on the streets of Chicago,
oh, on the streets of Long Beach,
mmm, and San Francisco (Boise Idaho),
Riots on the streets of Kansas City
(Salt Lake, Hunnington Beach, CA),
Tuscaloosa Alabama (Arcada Clarkston Michigan),
Fountain Valley (Texas, Barstow – Let’s do this every year),
Bear Mountain, Vista View (Twice a Year),
Eugene OR, Eureka CA (Let it burn, let it burn),
Hesperia (Oh, ya let it burn, wont’cha wont’cha let it burn),
Santa Barbara,Cuyamca, Nevada, (let it burn)
San Diego, Lakewood Florida, (let it burn)
fuckin…Dreadnaught punks!(wontcha let it burn)
any units assist 334 willow,
structure fire, and numerous subjects looting
10-15 to get rid of this looter..
- Audio from the 1996 album, Sublime: