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POP BEAT

Cautionary Concert in Rocker's Memory

January 11, 1997|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tonight's sold-out benefit at the Hollywood Palladium featuring Orange County pop powerhouse No Doubt is being billed as a concert to "honor the memory" of Brad Nowell, the late singer of the group Sublime. But Nowell's widow doesn't want anybody to get the wrong idea.

"It's not a tribute," says the former Troy denDekker, who was married only seven days before her husband injected a fatal heroin overdose last May. "We don't want to glorify the way Brad died."

Instead, the purpose of the show--which will include sets by numerous other acts, including the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, featuring surviving Sublime members Eric Wilson and Floyd "Bud" Gaugh--is to promote drug awareness and prevention among fans.

"We've lost too many musicians to drugs," says Nowell's widow, who was instrumental in persuading the bands to perform. "It's like everyone is desensitized to it--like it's OK because they were musicians. But it's not OK. And that's what we want people to know: Enough already."

Proceeds from the show will benefit the Musicians Assistance Program, a nonprofit music industry program that offers support for musicians struggling with drug addiction, and the Jakob James Nowell Scholarship Fund, which was established for the Nowells' 1-year-old son.

No Doubt, which rose from the same Southland ska-punk scene as Sublime, was only too happy to lend its support. The group, whose "Tragic Kingdom" album has topped the national sales chart for the last five weeks, shared many bills and a mutual admiration with the Long Beach-based Sublime.

No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal says he'll probably have a lump in his throat when he takes the stage tonight after a 20-minute Sublime video is shown.

"Obviously, it's going to be very emotional because you're there playing a show to commemorate a good friend who passed away--and passed away for very wrong reasons," he says. "But you're also there to change things for the future and prevent stuff like that from ever happening again.

"A lot of times we hear about musicians using drugs and it's so blase and cliched. You just kind of say, 'Oh, he'll be fine. Somebody will take care of him.' But that's not true. It's important for every single one of us to stand up and say, 'Enough of this [expletive].' It's time to make a difference."

Birthday Bash: In a 2 1/4-hour performance that "often verged on spectacular," according to Newsday rock critic Letta Tayler, David Bowie was joined by guests ranging from Lou Reed to the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan as he celebrated his 50th birthday with an all-star extravaganza Thursday night at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Rather than retread old ground, Bowie instead delivered what Tayler called "a mesmerizing series of moody melodies set to exuberant drum-and-bass rhythms, postindustrial cracklings and scorching guitar that amounted to some of his best work in years."

The new songs--part of his upcoming album, "Earthling," due in stores Feb. 11--blend rock with jungle dance textures.

Parting Shots: Scott Weiland may be back in drug rehab, but the other three members of the Stone Temple Pilots aren't just sitting around celebrating the group's Grammy nomination. Guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz are recording a side project with former Ten Inch Men singer Dave Coutts. But don't assume this means the threesome has lost patience with Weiland, who has battled heroin addiction for years. STP manager Steve Stewart says that Kretz and the DeLeo brothers had long planned to work with Coutts during the current break from STP's U.S. tour, which is scheduled to resume next month, pending Weiland's recovery. . . .

Despite critical acclaim for a dark, confrontational sound that has helped influence the shape of modern rock, Swans have never risen above cult status. "It's been 15 years of fairly arduous and protracted frustration and hard work and it hasn't really satisfied me to the degree that I think it's worth it to keep it going," says group leader Michael Gira. Accordingly, the band's current tour, including a Roxy show tonight, is its farewell. "It seems the name is more of a hindrance than a help at this point," Gira says. "It has too many negative connotations attached to it, so it seems to be the time to put it to rest."

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