The price of fame. Soon the pressures become too great. With alcohol and other drugs readily available many a Rock singer and guitarist has struggled to the top only to crash down a slippery self-destructive slope. Bass players and drummers have also succumbed but their demise usually doesn't wind up plastered on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The '90s brought its own twist on the Rock star scenario. Namely, Rockers had their self-destructive behavior intact before they made it. Case in point, Sublime.
Vocalist/guitarist Brad Nowell, bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh formed Sublime in '88 and played their first gig on the 4th of July. A riot ensued. Good start.
Over a four-year period the Long Beach, CA, group built a large and faithful following amongst the area's surf and skateboard crowd. So what about recording? Nowell and Sublime's manager started Skunk Records to release the group's work. Initially, distribution was limited to selling "40 Oz. To Freedom" at Sublime shows.
It was mega-station KROQ's playing of "Date Rape," where a jock gets his just desserts (in jail), that drew attention, nearly two years after the song was recorded.
Next came "Robbin' The Hood." While less Punk than their debut, it did well on college radio.
Thanks to the radio play, MCA signed Sublime. Work began on the next album. This one would do the trick. All they had to do was capitalize on everything they had built. Then Nowell was found dead from a heroin overdose in a San Francisco hotel room. He had been battling addiction for some time.
Ironically, "Sublime" with the acoustic "What I Got" and the mournful Ska-derived "Wrong Way" and "Santeria" released after Nowell's death, became the group's biggest hit.
As often happens, the record company gathered up outtakes, live tracks and anything else they thought fans would buy and shoved it out. Remaining consistent, Sublime's label released a two disc version of the group's self-titled '96 album a decade after its initial release. The songs on the first disc were sequenced in the order Nowell originally intended. That's nice. There were also a bunch of (surprise) previously unreleased tracks.
A Los Angeles county judge ruled in November, '09, that the former members of Sublime could not perform under that name. Wilson, Gaugh and singer/guitarist Rome Ramirez had appeared as Sublime at the Cypress Hill Smokeout Festival just days earlier.
The group was slapped with an injunction for illegal use of a trademark by Nowell's estate. "Prior to his untimely passing, both Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime," a Nowell family representative wrote on MySpace. A few months later an agreement was reached. Wilson and Gaugh could tour under the name Sublime With Rome.
They released their debut album, "Yours Truly" in '11. But it wasn't smooth sailing.
Toward the end of the year, Gaugh announced his departure. Initially, the reason initially given was that Gaugh wanted to spend more time with his family. But just a month or so later, he expressed regrets about continuing as Sublime With Rome and aired his dissatisfaction with "Yours Truly."
With journeyman drummer Josh Freese onboard, Sublime With Rome issued their sophomore set, "Sirens," in '15.
1992 40 oz. To Freedom
1994 Robbin' The Hood
Rarely does an indie release stand as a group's best effort but Sublime is different. "40 Oz. To Freedom" has Punk, conversational bits and "uncleared" samples. It works. Of course, Sublime's self-titled third album is no slacker, but it's slicker.
"Robbin' The Hood" is an unfocused bore despite a Peter Tosh cover (Steppin' Razor") and vocals by No Doubt's Gwen ("I'll duet with anyone") Stefani. Of the material recorded with Nowell but released after his passing, "Second Hand Smoke" and "Stand By Your Van Live," (nice pun) are OK but they're for major fans.