As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” Sorry, dear Ben, but no more darkness: We’ve been trouble followers for 35 years, after the release of those trouble makers released their debut album, “Trouble Boys.” For the record, the biography of one of the last great rock ’n roll bands of the twentieth century, the Replacements, is here. “Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements” (Da Capo Press, $27.50), written with the participation of the group’s key members, including singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson, guitarist Slim Dunlap, and the family of late band founder Bob Stinson, reveals the primal factors and forces that would shape one of the most brilliant and notoriously self-destructive groups of all time.
The book is based on nearly a decade of research and reporting by award-winning music critic Bob Mehr, who conducted hundreds of interviews (with family, friends, managers, producers and musical colleagues) and was given full access to the Replacements’ archives at Twin/Tone and Warner Bros. Records. This first-ever narrative biography of the influential Minneapolis band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees provides revelations about the band members’ troubled early years—which were scarred by abuse, alcoholism, and mental health issues—and their pre-Replacements musical history. The book also offers an in-depth exploration of the life and tragic death of founding member Bob Stinson, who passed away at the age of 35.
Tracing the band’s rise within the early ’80s American underground, it explores their friendship, collaboration and longstanding rivalry with R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü. Signing to Sire/Warner Bros. in 1985, they would become one of the first indie bands to make the transition to the major label world, inspiring unrivaled critical acclaim and record company frustration during their chaotic career. In addition, “Trouble Boys” presents a detailed look at the making of classic Replacements’ albums, including “Let It Be,” “Tim” and “Pleased to Meet Me.”
The book also documents the group’s battles with MTV, their infamous 1986 appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” and digs up true tales of the Replacements’ encounters with Bob Dylan and Prince, recording sessions with Tom Waits, performances with Keith Richards, studio chaos with Metallica, and tours with Tom Petty and Elvis Costello.
It recounts the band’s break-up, which saw them fire drummer Chris Mars and later split in front of 20,000 people onstage at Chicago’s Grant Park, in 1991. It goes on to trace their later post-band endeavors: following Paul Westerberg’s solo efforts and Tommy Stinson’s unlikely path to joining Guns N’ Roses. The book’s epilogue includes a behind-the-scenes look at the Replacements’ triumphant 2013-2015 reunion, which saw them selling out stadiums and reclaiming their legacy. And let’s not dismiss the book’s 72 rare and previously unseen images.