In 1996, Bradley James Nowell, frontman and guitarist of ska punk band Sublime tragically died from a heroin overdose.
Bradley’s family established the Nowell Family Foundation to increase awareness and raise funds for Bradley’s House, a free opioid rehabilitation center for musicians built to commemorate Bradley.
Bradley’s father, Jim “Papa” Nowell explains, “Bradley James Nowell died of a heroin overdose on May 25, 1996. It was a devastating loss for his family, friends, and fans. From this pain came a burning desire to help others who battle with opioid addiction to overcome the disease before it takes their lives. That’s why we started the Nowell Family Foundation.”
A few days ago, on January 15, LAW Records and the Nowell Family Foundation released the Deluxe Edition of The House That Bradley Built, featuring more than 30 brand-new covers of Sublime songs by an array of artists, including Pepper, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, Fortunate Youth, Common Kings, Descendents, Half Pint, Jim Lindberg of Pennywise, and a host of others.
Profits from the album go to the Nowell Family Foundation to help build Bradley’s House.
The initial release of the album debuted at #1 on the Reggae chart, #12 on the Alternative Albums chart, #20 on MRC’s Rock Albums chart, #7 on Billboard’s Compilation Albums chart, #8 on Billboard’s Reggae chart, and #69 on Billboard’s Current Albums chart.
The San Diego Tribune stated, “While the album stands as a testament to the many professional and personal lives that Sublime touched, its potential to truly make a difference for other musicians who are struggling with addiction should prove to be its greatest achievement.”
Talking about the impact of Sublime’s music, “Papa” Bradley, shares, “Bradley’s music lives on in the hearts and minds of his fans and fellow musicians. Through the combined effort of everyone who has been touched by his music, Bradley’s House will happen. People will be transformed. Lives will be saved. And it will truly be the house that Bradley built. Thank you all for helping to keep my son’s music alive.”
Tattoo spoke with Bradley’s sister, Kellie Nowell, who is the Executive Director of the Nowell Family Foundation, as well as Paul Milbury, the General Manager of LAW Records, to find out more about the foundation and the album.
What is the mission of the Nowell Family Foundation?
The core mission of the Nowell Family Foundation is to help people in the music industry who are struggling with addiction. We’re all familiar with the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” enjoyed by high-profile artists. Sadly, the majority of musicians struggle financially in pursuit of their dream. This can sometimes cause them to be trapped in a cycle of addiction that they cannot break without help. Help costs money. That’s where we come in.
When will the Bradley House open its doors?
We are aggressively fundraising to open Bradley’s House. Our goal is to raise approximately $750,000 to cover the expense of opening and operating for the first year. We have about $625,000 to go. Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated people and the support of many generous people, we hope to reach the goal soon. Bradley’s birthday is February
22nd. We’re planning a Day of Giving fundraiser to celebrate!
Who will staff the Bradley House?
Bradley’s House will be staffed by qualified, passionate individuals. Some candidates have already been identified for the positions. We’re very fortunate to have some board members who work in the recovery industry and are able to guide the staffing process.
How did Bradley get started in music?
Bradley and I grew up in a very musical family. It was a big part of our lives. Playing an instrument and singing was a natural thing because we were surrounded by it. In high school, Brad got involved with a few bands. By the time he finished his second year of college at UC Santa Cruz, he knew he wanted to get more serious about it. So he came home to Long Beach and continued going to school at Cal State Long Beach, while playing backyard parties with his new band, Sublime!
What initially inspired the idea of a compilation album?
I met Kellie at the Cali Roots Festival in 2019 and let her know that we wanted to get involved with the Foundation in some capacity. We (LAW Records) kicked around a couple ideas of having Pepper do an acoustic version of a Sublime song, release it, and have the proceeds go to the Foundation.
As we started talking about it we thought why don’t we have the LAW Records roster each do a song, which then opened up to artists outside of the roster and so on. Before we knew it, we had 50+ artists that wanted to be part of the project.
How did you get so many artists to participate?
That really speaks to the love the group of artists in this community have for Bradley and the cause of the Foundation. We really just let artists know about the project, what it was about and who it was benefiting, and everyone rallied almost immediately to be part.
What sets the deluxe edition apart from the original compilation album?
The Deluxe Edition is the complete comprehensive collection of songs. When we realized that we had 50+ songs we knew we needed to break up the release in some capacity in order to better highlight each band that took the time to participate. The compilation released in September 2020 had 24 songs and was a “Volume 1” of sorts. The Deluxe Edition adds 32 previously unreleased songs to the 24 released in September and is a true celebration of Bradley and the scene he helped inspire.