Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, who died 15 years
ago today, leaving behind a legacy that is intrinsically tied to Long
Beach and Orange County. This week's cover story pays tribute to the man who put Garden Grove on the map, who sang about
the perils of date rape and invented the surf punk rock/reggae/ska
hybrid that Southern California is now so famous for.
One of the most vivid images of Sublime's iconography is Bradley Nowell's famous Dalmatian, Lou Dog. Named after Nowell's grandfather, Louie Nowell, the mythology of Lou Dog was epic. He has allegedly bitten everyone from Gwen Stefani to the head of KROQ; was allowed to wander onstage during shows; and got featured prominently on album covers and injected into lyrics of many Sublime songs (“We took this trip to Garden Grove/It smelled like Lou Dog inside the van” from “Garden Grove”; “Livin' with Louie Dog's the only way to stay sane.” from “What I Got”; “Me and Louie, run to the party” from “Doin' Time.”).
After the jump, five of the best stories that our subjects told us about Lou Dog.
“Z Man was one of Sublime's friends and the star of the 'Date Rape' video along with Ron Jeremy. When we were shooting it at
Fern's in Long Beach, he came in one day and had a big ass, Bozo-style, afro wig on.
“The set had a rope around it that you had to get under to get
on the set. So V Man was kneeling, trying to go under the rope and Lou Dog bites off part of the bottom of his lip! 'Date
Rape' was the first major video shoot for the band, and this was the
band's friend, and he was an insurance agent as well. It was on the
video shoot so we had to pay for the operation or maybe Brad had to pay
out of pocket. It was a $5,000 operation, but the video did go on.”–Jon Phillips, Silverback Management
2. Louie was the “Safety Dog.”
“You have to understand, Troy had a newborn and a Rottweiler of her own, so after Brad died I started taking Lou Dog–we were doing Long Beach Dub All Stars, so he was good for morale. Plus I
knew him so long, I knew him all his life. I think Louie gets a bad rap, but Eric's dog Toby–he bit
everybody. He was a little terrier
Basenji. He would travel
100 city blocks to find Eric.
“Louie only bit certain people. He was one of the greatest dogs to ever live. Louie was the safety dog. He didn't like
skateboards–not safe–or people running by us. He got a bad rep, but he
was a handsome devil and a crowd-pleaser.” –Miguel Happoldt, Skunk Records co-founder
3. Lou Dog bites the star of the “Santeria” video.
“We had Lou Dog on the set
for the 'Santeria' video, and Bradley had already passed away, so he
wasn't on the set for that. But they were filming it with McG, who later went on to do
the Charlie's Angels movies. We had Tiny (Tom Lister, Jr.),
this 7-foot, 300-pound, big-ass dude.
“So McG's setting the scene up, and he
wanted Lou Dog to come on top of Tiny while he was lying down, and then look at the camera. People
tried to tell McG (well, I did), 'Look dude, don't push your luck here.
Don't have the dog go so close to the actor's face, it's going to blow
up.' Sure enough, Tiny, this big ass guy, shakes his head and makes a
'Immediately Lou Dog lunges at him and bites him in the
face. So Tiny was like, 'What the fuck!' and Lou gets taken off the set. I
just look at McG and say, 'I don't want to tell you I told you so,
but shit, dude, what are we gonna do now?' The next day they hired a dog
trainer/dog company with a couple of dalmatians. So if you notice the 'Santeria' video, there's a Dalmatian on the set that's not Lou Dog. He
got kicked off the set for biting.”–Jon Phillips, Silverback Management
4. “You never saw him without his dog.”
“One time our trumpet player Dan stepped on his dog's tail backstage
at one of our shows together. We thought Bradley was going to kill him, but
Bradley yelled at the dog instead. He was everywhere, always around
backstage. You never saw him without his dog. He did bite a lot of
people.” –Aaron Barrett, Reel Big Fish
5. “I liked Lou Dog fine until it bit me.”
“Lou Dog loved Bradley, but man! Even
Gwen got bit! Lou Dog bit Gwen with the Tragic Kingdom Dress, and then she replaced [the bite] with a heart patch. The second story is that I actually got bit by Lou Dog when I was announcing Sublime at The Phoneix Theater. I did this awesome introduction for them; and was jogging offstage; and I catch Lou Dog in the corner of my eye. And I am thinking “Oh, that cute! Lou Dog is following me offstage.” Instead, he catches up to me and bites me in the leg on the thigh, and ripped a hole in my jeans. * Fortunately, I was at the curtain, so no one in the audience saw me jump literally 10 feet! Hated that dog after that! I still have the jeans with the Lou Dog tear in them.” –Tazy Phillips, Ska Parade founder.
Lou Dog was allegedly at the foot of the bed on May 25, 1996 when Bradley
Nowell died in his hotel room from a heroin overdose. Miguel Happoldt
took care of Bradley's beloved dog after he died until Lou died of old
age on Sept. 17, 2001.
- SLIDESHOW: See exclusive images from Bradley Nowell's father own collection.
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- Free Moral Agents' Ikey Owens on Bradley Nowell: 'He Told Me I Played Too Much'