Like any decade, there were incredible musical highs and lows during the '90s -- undoubtedly the lowlights being the senseless deaths of such promising artists as Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon, and Sublime's Brad Nowell before each could fully develop their talents. Nowell was born on February 22, 1968, in Southern California, and picked up his gift for music from his parents; his mother was a singer and his father a guitar player. Influenced by such reggae artists as Bob Marley, Nowell picked up the guitar himself and joined his first band, Hogan's Heroes, at the age of 13. By the late '80s, Nowell had formed Sublime along with bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh, a trio that honed their sound (which mixed together such varied styles as ska, dub, punk, funk, rap, and hard rock) by constantly playing parties and clubs. The group issued a pair of independent releases, 1992's 40 Oz. to Freedom and 1994's Robbin' the Hood, which built Sublime a solid following with skate punks from coast-to-coast. In 1995, the early (and controversial) Sublime track "Date Rape" became a surprise hit on the L.A. radio station KROQ, resulting in Sublime inking a deal with MCA and planning their major-label debut.