The Long Beach, CA trio was founded in 1988 by Eric Wilson, Bud Gaugh and Bradley Nowell. Their first self-produced album 40oz. to Freedom was released in 1992 via the band’s label Skunk Records. Mostly due to radio exposure of “Date Rape” from SUBLIME’s 40oz. to Freedom which was heavily spun by Southern California’s KROQ (two years after its initial release), SUBLIME signed to MCA in time for the band’s 1994 sophomore album Robbin’ the Hood, which revealed an experimental ethic more in keeping with cut-and-paste dub than the well-tuned rage of the Cali punk revival. The album performed well at college radio and set the stage for the breakout success of their self-titled third album. On May 25, 1996, however, lead vocalist and guitarist Nowell was found dead in a San Francisco hotel room of a heroin overdose. The band collapsed, but the eponymous SUBLIME was still slated for a July 1996 release. On the strength of the chart-topping alternative radio hit “What I Got,” the album was certified gold by the end of 1996. “Santeria” and “Wrong Way” also enjoyed heavy airplay, and SUBLIME eventually sold more than six million copies, making it one of the most popular reggae-punk albums in history. Such success spread to the band’s earlier albums too, leading 40 Oz. to Freedom to double-platinum sales and Robbin’ the Hood to gold certification. SUBLIME have sold 16 million records in the US.
“The singular sound of Sublime, alternately polished and rough and ready, finds stoner rock, rap, punk, and hip-hop funk blended with doses of ska, rock steady, dancehall, and every other pungent flavor of reggae. The result was a beautiful, warts-and-all brand of poetry – a powerful new blend of street sounds and party music. In Nowell, Sublime had as astounding singer and lyricist who created his own edgy but expressive underground vernacular. And in Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, Sublime was fortunate to have an agile, rock-solid rhythm section that could cover the entire musical waterfront. They were musical counterparts that created their own signature rhythmic foundation, creating the ultimate canvas for Nowell to embellish.” –Rolling Stone writer David Wild