Fox Searchlight The London Olympics and their Paul McCartney-fronted opening…
- Posted on Jul 16th 2010 5:00PM by James Sullivan
"He didn't strike you as having the greatest intellect when you talked to him," Jesperson once recalled, "but he really was quite a deep person."
Once the show began, however, Stinson could be counted on to make an intoxicated fool of himself, while still shredding on his Telecaster. If the Replacements, the Minneapolis band that took rock 'n' roll mayhem to new heights (or lows), were infamous for their debauchery, Stinson was the debaucher-in-chief.
But while he was the founder and behavioral core of the group, he wasn't the primary songwriter. That role settled with frontman Paul Westerberg, a wild talent in his own right. It was a situation that ultimately made the troubled Stinson sadly expendable.
Bob Stinson was not quite 20 when he formed a band with his little half-brother, Tommy, who was only 11 at the time. Calling themselves Dogbreath and playing punky versions of songs by classic rockers such as Yes and Ted Nugent, they quickly recruited drummer Chris Mars. Paul Westerberg, who was working as a janitor, soon joined as the lead singer.
Billed as the Impediments, the band played a sloppy, drunken gig at a church that got them blacklisted from area clubs. Going incognito, they renamed themselves the Replacements. The ferocious, slap-happy band was an instant favorite of Jesperson's, who cut a handshake deal with them to record on his Twin/Tone label.
The band's breakthrough second album, 'Hootenanny,' featured one song ('Lovelines') with lyrics ripped straight from a local newspaper's personals section and another, 'Mr. Whirly,' that borrowed so blatantly from the Beatles that its songwriting credit read, "mostly stolen."
By the Replacements' fourth album, 1985's 'Tim,' it was plain that this band, for all its obnoxiousness, was also destined for some kind of skewed greatness. Newly signed to major label Sire Records, which had a solid track record with punk and New Wave acts (Ramones, Talking Heads), the band alternated between Stinson's predilection for bombast ('Bastards of Young') and Westerberg's increasingly writerly weariness ('Here Comes a Regular'). When commercial success seemed imminent, the band all but kicked it away; their first videos featured a single shot of a speaker, and a truly blotto performance on 'Saturday Night Live' got them banned from future appearances.
But Westerberg, for one, was ready for a bit more respectability. Stinson, more unreliable than ever due to his alcoholism and heavy drug use, was let go during recording sessions for the band's next album, 'Pleased to Meet Me.'
While his former bandmates toiled on unhappily in the world of corporate rock, Stinson knocked around for the next several years in various Minneapolis bands. He joined onetime New York punk Sonny Vincent in a couple of local bands, followed by another brief stint in a group called Static Taxi. At what would turn out to be the last gig he'd ever play, the founder of the Replacements took the stage with a local band called Trailer Trash to perform a song popularized by Dean Martin: 'Little Ole Wine Drinker Me.'
To little surprise among his friends, who'd known for years of his struggles, Stinson was found dead in his apartment in February 1995. Initially considered an overdose, it was later determined that his body had simply given out due to years of hard-core abuse. The guitarist was 35.
After the breakup of the Replacements, Westerberg has had a long, rewarding solo career. Tommy Stinson formed his own band, Bash & Pop, and then joined Guns N' Roses in 1998. Chris Mars is now enjoying a second career as a well-regarded painter of nightmarish grotesques.
And the late Bob Stinson has a hard-to-find park bench dedicated in his memory along a canal in Minneapolis.