Thirty-five years after the release of their debut album comes Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements — the biography of one of the last great rock ‘n’ roll bands of the twentieth century. 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, Trouble Boys (March 1, Da Capo Press) reveals the primal factors and forces – addiction, abuse, fear – 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 (Memphis) Commercial Appeal music critic and longtime MOJO contributor 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. “After years of work, hopefully this story comes across as passionately and powerfully as their music,” says author Mehr, who’s just launched a website for the project, at www.replacementsbook.com and is on Twitter @bobmehr.
This first-ever narrative biography of the influential Minneapolis band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees is an unrestrained account, providing 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, emotional exploration of the life and tragic death of founding member Bob Stinson, who passed away at the age of 35 in 1995.
Tracing the band’s rise within the early-’80s American underground, it also 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. The 520-page book also presents a detailed look at the making of classic Replacements’ albums Let It Be, Tim and Pleased to Meet Me, among others.
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 with 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.
Featuring interviews with label intimates (Seymour Stein, Lenny Waronker), fellow musicians (Peter Buck, Frank Black, Wayne Coyne), record producers (Scott Litt, Jim Dickinson), and Hollywood fans (actress Winona Ryder, Heathers screenwriter Daniel Waters), the book also includes 70 rare and previously unseen images.
This summer, the reunited Replacements wrapped up a sold-out headlining reunion tour of the U.S. and their first European dates in 25 years. Paul Westerberg has since been prepping his collaborative project with Juliana Hatfield, The I Don’t Cares – whose debut LP, Wild Stab, comes out in late-January. Tommy Stinson is currently wrapping up work on his third solo album at his Bipolar Bear Studios in Hudson, New York.
Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements will publish on March 1, 2016. The book is available for pre-order now.
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