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Sublime, Nowell family battle it out over band name

on October 26, 2009, 9:05am

Bands form and, because of outside interference or petty in-fighting, they are no more. The cycle will always be. But some bands hope to recapture the magic with reunion gigs and new albums. For the surviving members of Sublime, their attempt at a reunion is unearthing some painful memories and pitting a once tight-knit unit against one another.

The surviving members of the legendary outfit, Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh, first played a reunion show in Nevada with new singer Rome Ramirez last February. Then, this past weekend at the Smokeout Festival in San Bernardino, California, the trio played for the first time under the Sublime name (see below). However, as Rolling Stone reports, members of Nowell’s family have threatened legal action if Wilson and Gaugh continue to perform under the Sublime name. The family claims that before he died of a heroin overdose on May 25th, 1996, Nowell trademarked the Sublime name to ensure it wasn’t used without him being a part.

“As Brad’s heirs, and with the support of his entire family, we only want to respect his wishes and therefore have not consented to Bud and Eric calling their new project Sublime,” the Nowel family’s statement read. “We have always supported Bud and Eric’s musical endeavors and their desire to continue to play Sublime’s music. We wholeheartedly supported Bud, Eric and the many talented members of the Sublime posse that formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, soon after Brad’s death, to honor him through their original recordings, live performances and Sublime music until they disbanded in 2001. But, out of respect for Brad’s wishes, we have always refused to endorse any group performing as Sublime, and now with great reluctance feel compelled to take the appropriate legal action to protect Brad’s legacy.”

But Wilson and Gaugh responded with two statements of their own. The combined statement from the two said that while they continue to mourn Nowell’s untimely passing, they feel performing under the Sublime banner will get their musical message across that much better.

“Brad’s heirs apparently do not share this vision and do not want the band Sublime to continue and tried – unsuccessfully – to file a temporary restraining order to prevent the band from carrying on,” read the Wilson/Guagh statement. “Despite those objections, we are pleased that the United States District Court has allowed us to perform as Sublime for all of our fans. We urge everyone to join us in our message of peace and love, and we look forward to sharing the music we created — the music that defines us.”

Gaugh himself released a personal statement, attempting to drive home the fact that while Nowell is synonymous with the band, the group started in 1986 is just as much his and Wilson’s band.

“It’s unfortunate that The Estate would take a position against us,” Gaugh wrote. “Eric, Brad and I started this band when we were kids. We were the ones that spent years paying dues playing hole-in-the-wall clubs. We were the ones lugging around our gear in a broken down van. We were the ones that spent years writing, recording and rehearsing. WE. Not anyone else. Sublime is a band — our band.”

We’ll keep you updated if and when this issue reaches the courts.

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