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Far from Sublime: Battle brewing over reunion of famed Long Beach band [UPDATED]

October 23, 2009 | 11:44 am

Love is, apparently, what they ain't got.

Hours before the surviving members of Long Beach-bred surf-punk band Sublime are to reunite at the Cypress Hill Smokeout in Devore on Saturday, the estate of deceased singer Bradley Nowell has released a statement blasting the performance, and threatening legal action.

"Our hope is that Brad's ex-bandmates will respect his wishes and find a new name to perform under, so as to enhance the ‘Sublime’ legacy without the confusion and disappointment that many fans have expressed upon seeing the announcement," reads a statement distributed to the press, and signed by the surviving members of Brad's family, his widow Troy, his son Jakob and his father Jim.

The Smokeout performance would be the first major live appearance under the Sublime name in more than a decade. Original Sublime members Bud Gaugh and Eric Wilson are to perform with last-name-less vocalist/guitarist Rome. In the years since Nowell died of a drug overdose in 1996, Gaugh and Wilson formed the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, and Gaugh had recently formed a new band in Del Mar.

UPDATED AT 1:54 P.M.: Sublime surviving members Gaugh and Wilson issued a statement in response the estate Friday afternoon, declaring that there have already been unsuccessful legal attempts made to stop the band from performing.

It reads, "While we all mourn the passing of our brother and bandmate Bradley Nowell some thirteen years ago, Sublime still has a strong message of hope and love to share -- a  message that is especially important in these difficult times ... 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. Despite those objections, we are pleased that the United States District Court has allowed us to perform as Sublime for all of our fans."

This is not the first sign that there was tension over the Sublime reunion. Gaugh earlier wrote on his official website that there were behind-the-scenes attempts to "derail" the comeback show. Gaugh singled out Silverback Management -- the firm that counts Sublime among on its roster -- as the company trying to put an end to the Sublime reunion, and posted Silverback execs' e-mail addresses on the site.

Wrote Gaugh, "If it upsets you that a management firm, a suit & tie operation is attempting to destroy Bud and Eric's reunion, maybe write them personally and ask them why they would want that. Ask them to give a good excuse as why Brad's music shouldn't have the chance to live on, why Jakob shouldn't have the opportunity to be set for life as his fathers legacy along with the rest of the band have rightfully secured this for him. Send good ole Jon Phillips and Blaine Kaplan an email asking these important questions & demanding answers."

Today's statement does not name Silverback, and is listed as coming direct from The Estate of Bradley Nowell. According to the release, "Bud and Eric acknowledged that Brad Nowell was the sole owner of the name Sublime. It was Brad's expressed intention that no one use the name Sublime in any group that did not include him, and Brad even registered the trademark ‘Sublime’ under his own name."

The statement continues: "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."

Gaugh has been posting updates on the Sublime reunion on the website for his band Del Mar. He writes that he couldn't access the Sublime site. Gaugh posted in September, "The news would be coming from the Sublime myspace but certain people (Silverback management) have jacked it and will not allow the band members access to it."

Jon Phillips, who is listed on the Silverback site as Sublime's manager, has not responded to requests for comment. A spokesman for B|W|R Public Relations, which announced the Sublime performance at Smokeout, has also not responded to requests for comment.

--Todd Martens

UPDATED: This post was modified to include a statement from Sublime's founding members.