The Replacements

The Replacements

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Replacements

Img_capt = The Replacements in 1985, left to right: Top row: Chris Mars and Bob Stinson; Bottom row: Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Alias = The 'Mats Dogbreath The Impediments
Origin = Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Genre = Alternative rock
Punk rock
Years_active = 1979–1991, 2006
Label = Twin/Tone
Associated_acts = Bash & Pop
Golden Smog
Static Taxi
Current_members = Paul Westerberg
Tommy Stinson
Slim Dunlap
Steve Foley
Bob Stinson
Chris Mars

The Replacements were an American alternative rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979. The band comprised guitarist and vocalist Paul Westerberg, guitarist Bob Stinson, bassist Tommy Stinson, and drummer Chris Mars for most of their career. The Replacements began as a punk rock group, but began to incorporate other subgenres of rock music and became instrumental in the development of early alternative rock. Following the critically acclaimed "Let It Be" (1984), the band signed to Sire Records, becoming one of the first American underground rock bands to sign to a major record label.After Bob Stinson was fired from The Replacements in 1986, the band experienced several line-up changes; Slim Dunlap joined as lead guitarist and Steve Foley replaced Chris Mars in 1990. Towards the end of their career, Westerberg exerted more control over the band's creative output, recruiting session musicians for recording and writing all the original material. The band disbanded in 1991, with the members soon pursuing various projects. The Replacements never experienced wider commercial success, but have influenced various alternative rock acts, including Goo Goo Dolls, Green DayWalsh, Jim (May 22 1998. "Singer Says 'Seinfeld' Tune Was Much Ado About . . . Nothing". St. Paul Pioneer Press.] and Pavement.

The Replacements' music was influenced by classic rock artists such as the Faces and The Rolling Stones as well as punk bands such as The Clash. Unlike many of their underground contemporaries, The Replacements played "heart-on-the-sleeve" [Azerrad, 2001. p. 196] rock songs that combined Westerberg's "raw-throated adolescent howl"Azerrad, 2001. p. 202] with self-deprecating lyrics. The Replacements were a notoriously wayward live act, often performing under the influence of alcohol and trashing their instruments. The Replacements credit the Twin Cities founding punk band The Suicide Commandos as being their inspiration to become rock musicians.


Formation and early years

The Replacements' history began in Minneapolis in 1978 when a nineteen-year-old Bob Stinson gave his eleven-year-old brother Tommy Stinson a bass guitar to keep him off the streets.Azerrad, 2001. p. 198-9] That year Bob met Chris Mars, a high school dropout. With Mars playing guitar and then switching to drums, the trio began covering songs by Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and YesAzerrad, 2001. p. 198] without a singer. [Heibutzki, Ralph (October 29, 1993). "Brats in Babylon". "Goldmine".] One day, as Paul Westerberg, a janitor in a Senator's office, was walking home from work, he heard a band playing in the Stinson's house. [Walsh, 2007. p. 56-7] After being impressed by the band's performance, Westerberg regularly listened in after work. Mars knew Westerberg and invited him over to jam; Westerberg was unaware Mars drummed in Dogbreath.

Dogbreath auditioned several vocalists, including a hippie who read lyrics off a sheet. [Ayers, Dave (December 1983). "The Replacements: Getting No Place?". "Matter".] The band eventually found a vocalist; however, Westerberg wanted to be the singer and took him aside one day to say "The band doesn't like you". The vocalist soon quit, and Westerberg replaced him. Before Westerberg joined the band, Dogbreath often drank and took various drugs during rehearsals, playing songs as an afterthought. In contrast to the rest of the band, the relatively disciplined Westerberg appeared at rehearsals in neat clothes and insisted on practicing songs until he was happy with them.Azerrad, 2001. p. 199]

After the other band members discovered first-generation English punk bands like The Clash, Dogbreath changed their name to The Impediments and played a drunken performance without Tommy Stinson at a church hall gig in June 1980.Azerrad, 2001. p. 200] After being banned from the venue for disorderly behaviour, they changed their name to The Replacements. [cite web | url= | title=The Replacements > Biography | accessdate=2008-02-03 | author=Erlewine, Stephen Thomas | publisher=All Music Guide] In an unpublished memoir, Mars later explained the band's choice of name: "Like maybe the main act doesn't show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags. [...] It seemed to sit just right with us, accurately describing our collective 'secondary' social esteem".

Demo tape and Twin/Tone Records

The band soon recorded a four-song demo tape in Mars' basement, [Walsh, 2007. p. 56] and handed it to Peter Jesperson in May 1980. Jesperson was the manager of Oarfolkjokeopus, a punk rock record store in Minneapolis, ["Rock's Rudder Works at the Oar". "Minneapolis Star". September 11, 1979] and had also founded Twin/Tone Records with a local recording engineer named Paul Stark. Westerberg originally handed in the tape to see if the band could perform at the Longhorn, a local venue where Jesperson disc jockeyed.Walsh, 2007. p. 61] He eavesdropped on Jesperson's office as Jesperson put in the tape, only to run away as soon as the first song, "Raised in the City", played. Jesperson played the whole song through, again and again. "If I've ever had a magic moment in my life, it was popping that tape in," said Jesperson, "I didn't even get through the first song before I thought my head was going to explode". [Azerrad, 2001. p. 199-200]

Jesperson called Westerberg the next day, asking "So do you want to do a single or an album?". With the agreement of Stark and the rest of the band, The Replacements signed to Twin/Tone Records in 1980. [cite web | url= | title=The Replacements: Biography | accessdate=2008-02-04 | | work=The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll] Jesperson's support of the band was welcomed, and they asked him to be their manager after their second show. Later that summer, the band played several club gigs to almost empty venues; when they finished a song, apart from the low hum of conversation, the band would hear Jesperson's loud whistle and fast clapping. "His enthusiasm kept us going at times, definitely", Mars later said, "His vision, his faith in the band was a binding force".

After The Replacements signed to Twin/Tone, Westerberg began to write new songs, and soon had a whole album's worth of material. Mere weeks after their live debut, the band felt ready to record the album. Jesperson chose an eight-track home studio in Minneapolis called Blackberry Way; however, as the band had no clout at the studio, time spent in the studio was intermittent, and so it took about six months to record the album.Azerrad, 2001. p. 201] Although not important at the time, Twin/Tone could not afford to release the album until August 1981. Because they were suspicious of the music business in general, The Replacements had not signed a written contract with Twin/Tone Records.

Early releases

When the band's first album, "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash", finally appeared in August 1981, it received positive reviews in local fanzines. "Option"'s Blake Gumprecht wrote: "Westerberg has the ability to make you feel like you're right in the car with him, alongside him at the door, drinking from the same bottle". The album contained the band's first single, "I'm in Trouble", Westerberg's "first truly good song". "Sorry Ma" included the song, "Somethin to Dü", a homage to fellow Minneapolis punk band Hüsker Dü. [cite web | url= | title=Somethin to Dü | accessdate=2008-02-03 | author=Mason, Stewart | publisher=All Music Guide] The Replacements had a friendly rivalry with the band, which started when Twin/Tone chose The Replacements over Hüsker Dü,Azerrad, 2001. p. 205] and Hüsker Dü landed an opening slot at a Johnny Thunders gig that The Replacements wanted. [Azerrad, 2001. p. 204-5] Hüsker Dü also influenced the band's music; The Replacements began playing faster and became more influenced by hardcore punk. Despite this, the band did not feel part of the hardcore scene; as Mars later stated, "we were confused about what we were".

At a January 1982 show in Chicago, The Replacements debuted a song called "Kids Don't Follow". Jesperson was convinced the song sounded like a hit,Azerrad, 2001. p. 206] and pleaded to fellow Twin/Tone co-owners Stark and Hallman: "I will do anything to get this out. I will hand-stamp jackets if I have to".Walsh, 2007. p. 89] The partners agreed to fund the recording, but Jesperson and virtually everyone he knew had to hand-stamp ten thousand white record jackets. The band recorded eight tracks within the week, with Jesperson as producer. Their "balls-to-the-wall hardcore punk attempt",, their first EP "Stink", containing "Kids Don't Follow" and seven other songs, was released in June 1982, six months after the Chicago show.

The Replacements began to distance themselves from the hardcore punk scene after the release of "Stink". "We write songs rather than riffs with statements," Westerberg later stated. Inspired by other rock subgenres, he had been writing songs that incorporated a wide range of musical styles. He even wrote an acoustic ballad, "You're Getting Married One Night", but when he played it to the rest of the band, it was met with silence. "Save that for your solo album, Paul", Bob Stinson said, "That ain't The Replacements". The track remained unreleased for years. Westerberg realized his toughest audience was the band itself, later saying: "If it doesn't rock enough, Bob will scoff at it, and if it isn't catchy enough, Chris won't like it, and if it isn't modern enough, Tommy won't like it".

"Hootenanny" and "Let It Be"

With a batch of new songs, The Replacements entered a warehouse in Roseville, Minnesota to record their next album, with Twin/Tone co-owner Paul Stark engineering. Westerberg wrote songs in stops and starts, so it took several sessions of recording to finish the album. Stark's meticulous approach to recording was in contrast to that of The Replacements, which often frustrated the band. In one session, Mars and Westerberg switched instruments and the band began to improvise, with Westerberg shouting "It's a hootenanny" repeatedly. The band then declared it to be "side one, track one" of the new album.Azerrad, 2001. p. 209] According to Stark, the recording "was a complete joke from their point of view — they did not care what they delivered".

"Hootenanny", the band's second studio album, was released in April 1983. "Hootenanny" saw Westerberg expand his songwriting capabilities; in songs such as "Willpower", with echoed vocals and a sparse arrangement, and "Within Your Reach", which features Westerberg on all instruments, he revealed a more sensitive side. "Hootenanny" was played on over two hundred radio stations across the country, with critics acclaiming the album; "The Village Voice"'s Robert Christgau deemed it "the most critically independent album of 1983".Azerrad, 2001. p. 210]

By "Hootenanny"'s release, The Replacements had begun to attract a following outside of Minneapolis. The band embarked on their first tour of the U.S. in April 1983, joined by Bill Sullivan, a young security guard, as roadie, who approached the band after a show at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. [Azerrad, 2001. p. 207] Tommy Stinson dropped out of tenth grade to join the rest of the band on tour. The Replacements toured venues in the East Coast of the United States, including a tense gig at City Gardens in New Jersey where a number of punks lined the edge of the stage while the band were playing.Azerrad, 2001. p. 208] The band visited cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Philadelphia, but their intended destination was New York City, where they played at Gerde's Folk City and Maxwell's.Azerrad, 2001. p. 216]

The Replacements returned to New York in June 1983, playing at CBGB. The gig was a failure; the band were almost refused entry, Bob Stinson was thrown out as soon as he walked in the door, and The Replacements were the last of five bands, which meant they played in the early morning on a Monday night. The show at Folk City was not a success, because "The Replacements were so loud and obnoxious that the people just cleared right out", according to manager Jesperson. The band supported R.E.M. on an eight-date tour later that summer, deciding that they should alienate the audience as much as possible. It was not a successful tour; by the end, various members had threatened to quit The Replacements. Band morale was low, and Westerberg later stated: "We'd much rather play for fifty people who know us than a thousand who don't care". [Azerrad, 2001. p. 218] multi-listen item
filename=The ReplacementsUnsatisfied.ogg
description=is the seventh track of "Let It Be" (1984). Writer Michael Azerrad names it "a soaring hymn to restlessness, frustration and ennui".Azerrad, 2001. p. 222] The song features twelve-string guitar and slide guitar. [cite web | url= | title="Unsatisfied" > Song review | accessdate=2007-02-10 | author=Janovitz, Bill | publisher=All Music Guide]
For the recording of their next studio album, The Replacements decided to return to Blackberry Way Studios in late 1983. The band considered R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck as producer, but when they met him in Athens, Georgia, they did not have enough material to begin recording. Instead, Jesperson and Steve Fjelstad co-produced the album. [Gray, Marcus. "It Crawled from the South: An R.E.M. Companion". Da Capo, 1997. Second edition. ISBN 0-306-80751-3, p. 356-357] By this time, The Replacements had grown tired of playing loud and fast exclusively; Westerberg stated: "Now we're softening a little where we can do something that's a little more sincere without being afraid that someone's not going to like it or the punks aren't going to able to dance to it". [Azerrad, 2001. p. 221]

The new material placed more of a focus on songwriting and the music was influenced by heavy metal, arena rock and Chicago blues. Instruments such as piano, twelve-string guitar and mandolin featured throughout the album.Azerrad, 2001. p. 222] The new album featured songs such as "I Will Dare", which featured Buck playing a guitar solo, "Androgynous", with Westerberg on piano, and "Unsatisfied", where, according to writer Michael Azerrad, Westerberg "had hit upon a moving new way to declare that he can't get no satisfaction". "Let It Be" was released in October 1984 to critical acclaim.Azerrad, 2001. p. 223] Robert Christgau gave the album an A+, [cite web | url= | title=CG: the replacements | accessdate=2008-02-13 | author=Christgau, Robert |] and "Seattle Rocket" critic Bruce Pavitt called "Let It Be" "mature diverse rock that could well shoot these regional boys into the national mainstream".In 1989, "Let It Be" was ranked #15 on "Rolling Stone" magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.

Early major label releases

"Let It Be"'s release had attracted attention from the major record labels, and by late 1984 several had expressed interest in signing The Replacements. [Azerrad, 2001. p. 226-7] Financially, the band were not doing well; they were not selling enough records to recoup their expenses, and money from shows went to recording costs, hotels, travel and instrument repairs. Bob Stinson worked a day job as a pizza chef.Azerrad, 2001. p. 226] Twin/Tone were not being paid reliably by distributors [Azerrad, 2001. p. 225] and the sales of "Let It Be" were not high enough to justify extra promotion. "It was time for a major label to take over", according to the label's co-owner Stark. The band was close to a major label contract, but often alienated label representatives by intentionally performing badly in concert;Walsh, 2007. p. 165] their 1985 live album, "The Shit Hits the Fans", was an example of their concert performances at the time.

One label, Warner Bros. Records subsidiary Sire Records, eventually signed The Replacements.Azerrad, 2001. p. 227] The band admired label head Seymour Stein, who had managed the Ramones, and Stein recruited Tommy Ramone as producer for their first major label album. [Walsh, 2007. p. 167] Their first major-label release was "Tim" on Sire.

After the release of "Tim", The Replacements fired Bob Stinson, partly for being unwilling to play the band's "less rocked-out" material, and partly for being too drunk to try. They also fired Jesperson the same year. "It was like being thrown out of a club that you helped start", Jesperson later commented, "Everybody was drinking and doing more drugs than they needed to". [Azerrad, 2001. p. 228]

Stinson preferred the louder, faster style of the band's early music, while Westerberg was exploring new territory in ballads like "Here Comes a Regular" and "Swingin' Party". The remaining Replacements carried on as a trio for "Pleased to Meet Me" (1987) recorded in Memphis with Big Star producer Jim Dickinson. Minneapolis guitarist Slim Dunlap took over lead guitar duties for the subsequent tour and soon became a full member of the band.

"Don't Tell a Soul" and "All Shook Down"

The band's next album, "Don't Tell a Soul", was a quieter, less punky affair, largely considered a stab for mainstream success. While the move cost the Replacements appreciation of some hardcore fans, the album had a number of notable songs, such as "Achin' to Be" and "I'll Be You", which topped Billboard's Modern Rock chart. They then made a second appearance on network television—on ABC's short-lived "Rock Awards" show—where they performed a typically energetic version of "Talent Show" and caused a minor controversy when Westerberg responded to the network's censoring of the "feeling good from the pills we took" line by inserting an uncensored "It's too late to take pills, here we go" at the end of the song.

But there was trouble within the band following a disastrous tour opening for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Westerberg recorded a new album largely with session musicians but was persuaded to release it as a Replacements album. "All Shook Down" won critical praise and more mainstream attention, though the many guest players and Mars's quick departure from the band following the album's release led many to wonder about the band's future.


Foley was recruited as Mars's replacement in 1990, and the band embarked on a long farewell tour which lasted into the summer of 1991.On July 4, 1991, the band officially broke up following a Taste of Chicago performance in Grant Park, referred to by fans as "It Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Roadie Plays" because each member disappeared during the set, their respective roadies taking their places. This show was broadcast by Chicago radio station WXRT. There are several bootlegs floating around the Internet.

Tommy Stinson has been the bassist with Guns N' Roses since 1998, replacing charter GnR member Duff McKagan. He also played with the bands Bash & Pop and Perfect. In 2004 he released a solo CD titled "Village Gorilla Head". Bob Stinson, who played in a few other bands after leaving the Replacements, including Static Taxi and The Bleeding Hearts, died in 1995.

Westerberg is a successful singer-songwriter signed to Vagrant Records and, under his alias Grandpaboy, to Fat Possum Records. "Folker", his latest album, was released in September 2004; it marks his return to the melodic low-fi of The Replacements. Dunlap keeps a low national profile, but is still quite active in the local Twin Cities music scene, while Mars primarily works as a visual artist.

In 1997 Reprise Records released the 2-CD set "All For Nothing/Nothing For All". The "All For Nothing" disc collected cuts from "Tim" through "All Shook Down", while the "Nothing For All" disc is a collection of B-sides and other previously non-album tracks.

In 2002, in an interview with "Rolling Stone", Westerberg mentioned The Replacements had been considering a reunion. Westerberg stated; "We'll get together again one day. It will take a while, or it might take a few legal swipes of the pen, but we ain't over A partial reunion nearly occurred in March 2002, when Tommy Stinson planned to join Westerberg on a tour of the Midwest, but Stinson's prior commitments with Guns N' Roses prevented it from happening. cite web | url= | title=Replacements Mull Reunion | accessdate=2008-02-04 | author=Devenish, Colin | | date=2002-03-29]

On June 13, 2006, Rhino records released a best of The Replacements compilation, entitled "". It consists of songs from both the Twin/Tone and Sire/Reprise records years and includes two new songs, "Pool & Dive" and "Message To The Boys". Both songs were written by Westerberg and recorded by the band at Flowers Studio in Minneapolis. Session musician Josh Freese (The Vandals, A Perfect Circle, ex-Guns N' Roses) played drums on the two tracks, while Mars contributed backing vocals. Slim Dunlap did not participate in the sessions. On 22 April 2008, Rhino Entertainment released re-mastered 'deluxe editions' of the bands four Twin/Tone albums with rare bonus tracks. On 24 September 2008, Rhino released the Sire albums as deluxe editions.

Foley died in 2008 from an accidental overdose of a prescription medication (not a drug overdose).cite news|author=Cohen, Jonathan|title=Replacements Drummer Steve Foley Dies|url=|date=August 27, 2008|work=Billboard|publisher=Nielsen Business Media|accessdate=2008-09-05]

Material recorded with Tom Waits in 1988 was released on the Westerberg solo album "3oclockreep" in 2008.

Live performances

The Replacements were somewhat notorious for their rowdy, drunken shows. Sometimes the band would show up too intoxicated to play their own songs, and instead would play covers, which they would perform with drunken coarseness. Yet there was also an element of unpredictability to the group's reputation for such inebriated performances, as The Replacements - when sober - gained critical praise for their live shows. Part of the mystique of the band, then, was the fact that fans never knew until the start of a concert if The Replacements would be performing in a besotted or clearheaded state.

It was not uncommon for the group to play entire sets of covers, ranging anywhere from Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" to Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love" to Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." When The Replacements played CBGB, the New York City club, the band performed a sloppy rendition of The Beatles's "Let It Be", but with Westerberg singing the lyrics to his own "Fuck School."

Television appearances and videos

During their years together, The Replacements acquired an "anti-video" reputation. The video for "Bastards of Young" featured nothing more than a single shot of a speaker, while "The Ledge" (which MTV would not play due to lyrical themes that explored suicide) featured the band sitting around in a room with chairs and a sofa doing nothing in particular. This video was recycled for "Alex Chilton".

However, prior to Stinson's departure, the band appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and performed the then-new "Bastards of Young". The band was subsequently banned from SNL due to a combination of the band's state of inebriation and the fact that Westerberg swore during the live broadcast. Still, Westerberg's status as a songwriter and performer merited him a shot at SNL redemption, and he performed an acclaimed version of The Replacements song "Can't Hardly Wait" on 4 December 1993 with his solo band, complete with the SNL horn section.


Green Day vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong recalled seeing The Replacements live after the release of "Pleased to Meet Me": "It was amazing. It changed my whole life. If it wasn't for that, I might've spent my whole time playing in bad speed-metal bands."Tommy Womack singer/songwriter from Nashville sings a mostly biographical song called "The Replacements" recounting the history and histrionics of the band on his 2002 Circus Town CD.

The band They Might Be Giants composed a song in tribute to The Replacements entitled "We're The Replacements."

As another indicator of the lasting influence of the group, 1234 Go! Records released "". The album was released on 3 October 2006, and features twenty-three Replacements cover songs by notable rock, punk, pop, and country artists.


tudio albums

*"Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash" (1981)
*"Hootenanny" (1983)
*"Let It Be" (1984)
*"Tim" (1985)
*"Pleased to Meet Me" (1987)
*"Don't Tell a Soul" (1989)
*"All Shook Down" (1990)


*Azerrad, Michael. "Our Band Could Be Your Life". Little, Brown and Company, 2001. ISBN 0-316-78753-1
*Walsh, Jim. "The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting". Voyageur Press, 2007. ISBN 0-7603-3062-3

External links

* [ "City Pages" - This Is Hardcore]

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