Bradley Nowell Biography: Songs, Album, Age, Net Worth, Children, Parents, Death,

February 28, 2024 0 Posted By Johnson Ajiboye

Bradley Nowell was a talented and influential musician who rose to fame as the lead singer and guitarist of the ska punk band Sublime.

He was known for his eclectic and innovative fusion of musical genres, such as reggae, rock, hip-hop, and folk.

His music reflected his personal experiences, struggles, passions, and social and political views. He was one of the most prominent figures of the 1990s alternative scene, and his legacy continues to inspire many artists and listeners today.


  • Full name: Bradley James Nowell
  • Date of birth: February 22, 1968
  • Age: 28 years old (at the time of death)
  • Gender: Male
  • Place of birth: Long Beach, California, USA
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer
  • Height: 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
  • Parents: Jim Nowell (father), Nancy Nowell (mother)
  • Siblings: Kellie Nowell (sister)
  • Spouse: Troy Dendekker (married in 1996)
  • Children: Jakob James Nowell (son)
  • Relationship status: Married (at the time of death)
  • Net worth: $1.5 million

Early Life & Education

Bradley Nowell, who would have been 56 years old in 2024, was born on February 22, 1968, in Long Beach, California, to Jim and Nancy Nowell.

His father was a construction worker, and his mother was a singer and piano teacher. He had a younger sister named Kellie, who was born in 1971.

He grew up in a suburban neighborhood and attended Wilson High School. He was exposed to various musical influences from an early age, such as the Beatles, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, and the Beach Boys.

He learned to play the guitar when he was 10 and started writing his songs when he was 13. He also developed a love for surfing, skateboarding, and fishing, which became recurring themes in his music.

He graduated from high school in 1986 and enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, where he majored in finance.

He also joined a fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, where he met Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, who would later become his bandmates in Sublime.

He dropped out of college in 1988 after he received a $12,000 inheritance from his grandfather. He used the money to travel to the Caribbean, where he immersed himself in the local culture and music. He also experimented with various drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which would later become a serious addiction.

Personal Life

Bradley Nowell had a turbulent and complicated personal life, marked by his drug abuse, legal troubles, and romantic relationships.

He had several girlfriends throughout his life, some of whom he wrote songs about, such as “Caress Me Down,” “Mary,” and “Santeria.”

He also had a dog named Louie, a Dalmatian mix, who was his constant companion and mascot. He often brought Louie to his concerts and featured him on his album covers.

In 1995, he met Troy Dendekker, a waitress and model, who became his girlfriend and later wife. She was with him during his tours with Sublime and became pregnant with his son, Jakob, in the same year. They married in Las Vegas on May 18, 1996, in a spontaneous ceremony.

However, their marriage was short-lived, as Nowell died of a heroin overdose just a week after their wedding. Dendekker was devastated by his death and struggled to cope with the loss.

She later remarried to Kiki Holmes in 2002, but they separated in 2017. She has remained close to Nowell’s family and friends and raised Jakob, a musician, following his father’s footsteps.


Bradley Nowell’s career as a musician began in 1988 when he formed Sublime with Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, his friends from college.

They started playing at local clubs and parties and gained a reputation for their energetic and unpredictable live performances.

They also recorded their music, using a four-track recorder and a mixing board, and distributed their tapes to their fans and radio stations.

They released their first album, 40 Oz. to Freedom, in 1992, which featured a mix of original songs and covers of artists such as Bob Marley, Bad Religion, and the Descendents.

The album was a success, selling over 2 million copies and spawning the hit single “Date Rape,” which received heavy airplay on KROQ, a popular radio station in Los Angeles.

They followed up with their second album, Robbin’ the Hood, in 1994, which was more experimental and lo-fi and reflected Nowell’s struggles with drug addiction and depression.

The album was less commercially successful but still garnered critical acclaim and cult status. It also included the song “Saw Red,” which featured Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, Nowell’s friend and collaborator.

In 1996, Sublime signed a major label deal with MCA Records and began working on their third and final album, Sublime. The album was produced by Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers and showcased Nowell’s maturity and versatility as a songwriter and musician.

It also featured some of his most popular and memorable songs, such as “What I Got,” “Wrong Way,” “Santeria,” and “Doin’ Time.”

The album was released on July 30, 1996, two months after Nowell’s death, and became a huge success, selling over 6 million copies and reaching number 13 on the Billboard 200 chart. It also received positive reviews from critics and fans and is widely considered one of the best albums of the 1990s.

Besides Sublime, Nowell also worked on other musical projects, such as the Long Beach Dub Allstars, a reggae and dub group he formed with Sublime members and other local musicians.

He also produced and collaborated with other artists, such as Slightly Stoopid, Bargain Music, and Ziggens.


Bradley Nowell died on May 25, 1996, in San Francisco, California, from a heroin overdose. He was 28 years old.

He was staying at the Ocean View Motel with his bandmates and wife, Troy, who had joined him for the weekend. He had been clean from heroin for several weeks but relapsed the night before his death after buying some from a dealer.

He injected himself in his hotel room and fell asleep on his bed. The next morning, his bandmates found him lying on the floor with his syringe and spoon next to him. They tried to revive him, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the paramedics.

His death shocked and saddened his family, friends, and fans, who mourned his loss and celebrated his life.

His funeral was held on May 30, 1996, at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and was attended by over 2,000 people. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean near his favorite surfing spot.


Bradley Nowell’s life and career were not without controversy, as he faced several legal and ethical issues, mainly related to his drug use, his lyrics, and his sampling. He was arrested several times for drug possession, driving under the influence, and vandalism.

He also had a lawsuit filed against him by the estate of George Gershwin, the composer of “Summertime,” which he sampled in his song “Doin’ Time.”

The lawsuit was settled out of court, and Nowell agreed to change the lyrics from “Summertime” to “Doin’ Time” in the chorus.

He also faced criticism from some people who accused him of cultural appropriation, racism, and sexism for his use of Jamaican patois, his references to black culture, and his portrayal of women in some of his songs.

However, he also had many supporters and defenders, who argued that he was respectful and appreciative of other cultures, that he was honest and authentic in his music, and that he was a feminist and an anti-racist.

Social Media

  • Instagram handle: N/A
  • Twitter handle: N/A


  • 40 Oz. to Freedom
  • Robbin’ the Hood
  • Second-hand Smoke
  • Stand by Your Van
  • Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends
  • Bradley Nowell & Friends

Net Worth

Bradley Nowell’s net worth at the time of his death was estimated to be around $1.5 million. He earned most of his income from his music sales, royalties, and tours with Sublime.

He also owned a recording studio, Skunk Records, which he founded with Miguel Happoldt, his friend and mentor.

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