Thursday, January 27, 2005

Apple #30: The Replacements


By request, here's info on The Replacements, a band from the 1980's. They were probably one of the first "indie" bands to reach a fairly wide audience.

Photo by Greg Helgeson

  • They were:
    • Paul Westerberg, vocals, guitar, primary song-writer. Still recording and performing on his own. I saw him in the late 90's. He wore baggy pants and red & white shiny shoes and a red shirt, and I was close enough to the stage to see the sweat flying off his face.
    • Bob Stinson, guitar, RIP. Died in 1995 of a drug overdose.
    • Slim Dunlap, guitar. Replacement for Bob Stinson.
    • Tommy Stinson, Bob's brother, bass. Later formed his own band, Perfect Tommy.
    • Chris Mars, drums.
  • Known for getting fabulously drunk before, during, and after their shows. As one writer put it: "Frequently, the band was barely able to stand up, let alone play, and when they did play, they often didn't finish their songs."
  • They were also incredibly young. When their first album was released, Tommy Stinson, the youngest, was 14.
  • Referred to by fans as "The Mats," short for "The Placemats," itself a pun on the band's name.
  • Formed in 1979 in Minneapolis as a garage punk band.
  • Signed to a local label in 1981 and released a few albums to increasing acclaim.
  • In 1984, released Let It Be, which revealed the depth of Westerberg's song-writing talent and swelled the ranks of the band's underground following. Soon after, they signed a contract with Sire records in 1985.
  • The release of their next album was anticipated to be the work that would launch them into mainstream fame and blow the lid off. When that album was released later in 1985, it carried the purposefully unprepossessing title, Tim.
  • The band continued its self-deprecating style with its video for "Bastards of Young" which featured only a stereo system playing the song. This tactic "thereby cut themselves off from the mass exposure MTV could have granted them." One could argue, not everyone got the joke.
  • Appeared on Saturday Night Live roaring drunk, and Westerberg said the F word on air, which did nothing to endear them to promoters.
  • Following the tour for Tim, Bob Stinson was fired for unreliability due to his drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Three years, two mildly successful albums, and a new guitarist later, the band said they had kicked their habits and wanted to "play the promotional game." The next album featured "I'll Be You," which scored high on both rock and pop charts. However, the rest of the album never really took off.
  • Westerberg next wanted to record a solo album, but Sire records refused. He then released All Shook Down, which was the solo album he would have liked to have made, but under The Replacements' name. The drummer left the band shortly thereafter, and by 1991, The Replacements had disbanded.

("The Replacements" is also the name of a mediocre movie about football starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman.)

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide, reproduced on MTV's
Bio of The Replacements
Rolling Stone,
The Replacements Bio
The Replacements
Stephanie Zacharek, "
True Romance: the bittersweet legacy of The Replacements," The Boston Phoenix archive, November 6-13, 1997
Westerberg, Mould, but No 'Mats at Mueller Benefit," Billboard, September 23, 2004


  1. "Androgynous" -- which my fine eldest brother put on a tape for me when I was 14, I think? ... is still one of the greatest songs ever. Even if you're not drunk.

  2. My favorite Replacements lyric: "Jesus rides beside me, but he never buys any smokes."


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