Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

Hardcover | March 1, 2016

byBob Mehr

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Based on all-new interviews and including 72 rare photos, Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements is the definitive 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 reclusive singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson, and the family of late guitarist Bob Stinson, Trouble Boys is a deeply intimate and nuanced portrait, exposing the primal factors and forces—addiction, abuse, fear—that would shape one of the most brilliant and notoriously self-destructive groups of all time.

Based on a decade of research and reporting, hundreds of interviews (with family, friends, managers, producers, and musical colleagues), as well as full access to the Replacements' archives at Twin/Tone and Warner Bros. Records, author Bob Mehr has fashioned something far more compelling than a conventional band bio.

Beginning with riveting revelations about the band members' troubled early years—which were scarred by alcoholism and mental health issues—Trouble Boys tracks the group as they rise within the early '80s American underground and chronicles the making of classic LPs like Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, and Let It Be.

Signing to Warner's Sire Records, the Replacements became one of the first indie bands to make the transition to the major label world, winning converts thanks to Westerberg's rapidly maturing songwriting on records like Tim and Pleased to Meet Me.

Mehr uncovers the darker truths behind the band's legendary drinking, showing how their addictions first came to define them and then nearly destroyed them. He offers an in-depth exploration of the life and tragic death of founding member Bob Stinson, who was fired from the group and later passed away at the age of thirty-five. By the end of their twelve-year run in 1991, the band's tightly held bonds had frayed as drummer Chris Mars was fired and Westerberg's depression, drinking, and desire to go solo became all-consuming. The band's break-up came in front of 20,000 people onstage at Chicago's Grant Park as they ceremoniously handed off their instruments to their road crew and disappeared, seemingly for good.

Trouble Boys then traces Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson's subsequent efforts to find careers of their own, and it reveals the Replacements' impact and influence on successive generations of artists—from the Flaming Lips to the Pixies, Nirvana to Green Day, the Wallflowers to Wilco. The book also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Replacements' triumphant 2013-2015 reunion, which saw them selling out stadiums, reclaiming their legacy, and re-establishing the complicated brotherhood between Westerberg and Stinson.

A roaring rock 'n' roll adventure, a heartrending family drama, and a cautionary showbiz tale, Trouble Boys is a penetrating work of biography and a major addition to the rock book canon.

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Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

Hardcover | March 1, 2016
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From the Publisher

Based on all-new interviews and including 72 rare photos, Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements is the definitive 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 reclusive singer-songwriter Paul Westerberg, bassist Tommy Sti...

Bob Mehr is an award-winning music critic for the Gannett-owned newspaper The Commercial Appeal and a longtime contributor to MOJO magazine. He's also served as an editor, writer, and columnist for Village Voice Media, New Times Inc., and Chicago Reader. He contributed liner notes to the Grammy-winning Big Star box set Keep an Eye on t...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:520 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:March 1, 2016Publisher:Da Capo BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0306818795

ISBN - 13:9780306818790

Customer Reviews of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements


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Editorial Reviews

Praise for Trouble BoysNew York Times, April 2016A “Celebrities” Best Seller “Bob Mehr’s raucous, ribald, and oft-times harrowing book takes us behind the scenes, to the bottom of the bottle, all the way to the end of the road, and then further still—revealing the story of the Replacements, a band that gave away its soul on every record and refused to sell its soul to a corporate world.”—Robert Gordon, author of Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion and Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters“The destruction. The volume. The cruelty. The charm. The songs. The songs. The songs. To live close to Paul Westerberg’s material was to be liftedthen bent by it. The songs were that good. Mehr shows us that no one, Westerberg included, knew quite what to do with it all. It was underrated, overrated, obsessed over, ignored—never anything in the middle. But somewhere between the Replacements’ path of destruction, epic but ultimately empty, and the beauty and honesty of Westerberg’s writing, there was a band, a band whose story has for too long remained unknown and unknowable. This book gets us closer than we’ve ever been. Mehr brings us one of the great American rock ‘n’ roll stories and all the hurt that came with it.”—Warren Zanes, author of Petty: The Biography and Revolutions in Sound: Warner Bros. Records—The First Fifty Years“The Replacements spent a decade of their lives making some of the most emotive rock music never to hit the mainstream. Bob Mehr has spent a decade of his life researching their story. Balancing a fan’s enthusiasm with journalistic perspective, he now delivers it in richly detailed and powerfully unvarnished form. Finally, the ’Mats get the book they deserve.”—Tony Fletcher, author of Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend and A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths“Bob Mehr has given us a book, a real book, that will draw you in whether or not you give a fig about rock ‘n’ roll or any world but your own.”—Nick Tosches, author of Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story and Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of DreamsKirkus (starred review), 1/15/16“An in-depth biography of a beloved, exasperating band that never quite made it[An] impressively researched and well-rendered biographyThe dynamic that made the band great also tore them apart, as this biography superbly documents.”Publishers Weekly, 1/11/16“Mehr captures the light and dark of a band that could play both acoustic balladsand punk anthemsMehr covers all aspects of the band members: alcoholism and addiction, artistic differences, ruined friendships, and the death of lead guitarist Bob StinsonThoroughly researched and detailedearning the ‘true story’ subtitle.”Classic Rock, 1/22/16“A rare insight in the machinations of four young men who brought new meaning to the phrase ‘burn out’A fan Mehr may be, but he’s not afraid to pull back the curtain on what a bunch of snot-nosed, damage-case kids The Replacements could and would often beWhat puts Mehr’s book far above of any other on this prickly subject is the depth of research.”Vanity Fair, March 2016“Trouble Boys dares to tell the true story of the Replacements.”Library Journal (starred review), 2/15/16“This fantastic biographyof the self-destructive 1980s alternative rock band The Replacements provides sensitive, detailed, and critical depictions of the band’s membersA page-turner from beginning to end and should find its way onto every music fan’s bookshelf. It offers a master class on how to pen a rock biography.”Washington Post, 2/11/16“The definitive bio of the ReplacementsTrouble Boys brings the band back to life. Over six years, Mehr interviewed more than 200 people, creating a narrative thick with detail, revelations and emotion.”Rolling Stone, 3/10/16“[Trouble Boys] dives deepMehr vividly charts [the band’s] bumpy arcThe ’Mats story has been told many times, but Mehr got unprecedented access and his reporting gives their hard-luck tales chilling depthThis detailed backstory makes [the songs] burn anew.”Mojo, March 2016“Mehr reveals the very human tragedy behind one of the great American rock ’n‘ roll bands, as well as the foibles that made The Replacements so beloved by their true believers. This book is for every one of them.”Uncut, April 2016“Tremendous[A] brilliant biography.”Huffington Post, 2/25/16“Mehr’s exhaustive biography raises the squeaking garage door on the legend of The Replacements to shed some light and capture in vivid detail the pain, disappointment and heartache of a group of four disparate, self-loathing suburban misfits.”Pitchfork, 3/3/16“The most comprehensive book about the band to dateMehr brings the band’s members to life.”Yahoo! Music, 2/25/16“There have been other books and countless newspaper and magazine features written about the Replacements over the years, but none tell the story of the legendary Minneapolis rock band with as much depth, care and clarity as Trouble Boys.”St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3/2/16“Separate[s] fact and fiction about a group that never had a hit record but claims some of the most faithful fans in music.”, 3/4/16“Trouble Boys finally tells the whole fascinating tale of the Replacements in all its ragged glory. Mehrbrings out the human element in the band’s story.”Houston Press, 3/2/16“[A] masterful, comprehensive and engrossing bioAn incredibly insightful and complete piece of music journalism.”Austin American-Statesman, 2/28/16“Easily the year’s most anticipated music book.”Vulture, 2/29/16“A book full of revelations. Mehr fills his biography with little-known anecdotes, shocking quotes, and surprising accounts of interpersonal relations that will provide insight to even the most hard-core Replacements fans.”Creative Loafing, 3/2/16“The first proper biography of the groupFor most Replacements fans, it will be as irresistible as catnip.”Paste, 3/3/16“A deep, dark look at the ReplacementsBoth a tragic and strangely comedic portrait of a rock ‘n’ roll band in the ’80sPowerfully written, densely researchedThe story of young, cocky and oftentimes fucked-up Midwesterners led by one of rock’s greatest songwriters.”Minneapolis City Pages, 3/1/16“Essential readingWhile the bio deals in weighty matters (abuse, addiction, depression), there’s no shortage of priceless anecdotes.”Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/6/16“The standout music book of the young yearMehr’s book puts a capstone on a Replacements story that has come back to life this decade.”American Way, March 2016“The best music book you’ll read all year. More than just rockers will love this raucous readIt’s a book about a band, but it’s also the story of kids from damaged families who were saved—to a point—by rock ’n’ roll. A must-read.”Chicago Tribune, 3/20/16“Thoroughly researched and eminently readableThe type of book any band would kill for.”, 3/15/16“Your new Replacements bibleAn unflinching, uncompromising look at the band and the legend.”, 3/15/16“Finally, the band gets the excellent, fully-formed biography it deservesA breezy read that sometimes stops you cold for the depth of sadness the band often existed in.”Blurt, March 2016“Trouble Boys is a time trip back to the heady days when bands definitely mattered and record labels kinda sorta didIf there is a sadder tale in rock ‘n’ roll, after reading Trouble Boys, I could not call it to mind.”Record Collector, May 2016“With Trouble Boys Mehr has delivered what will surely be the definitive book about the band at the first attempt.”Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/20/16“This new book is the definitive Replacements document. All the infamous stories and folklore that we’ve heard about are here, warts and all.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/20/16“A well-researched and thorough examination of their career, from the earliest days of their lives up through their recent reunion tour in 2015It is a sad tale of genius, mental illness, addiction and self-immolation.”Omnivoracious (The Amazon Book Review), 3/24/16“[The] definitive biography of the legendary Minneapolis rock bandMehr reaches into all the corners, some dark and salacious: alcohol and addiction; ego and ambition; brotherhood and betrayal; and above everything, all the great songs.”Blurt, 3/24/16“Mehr lays out The Replacement’s story brilliantlyOne of the strongest music bios to come out in years, honest and surprisingly in depth.”Austin Chronicle, 4/1/16“Grave revelations, coupled with side-splitting stories of booze-fueled bedlam, net Mehr’s biography as definitive. Ace reporting and the author's shrewd parlance boost this tragicomedy page-turner past paean to allusive eulogy of rock & roll's foremost troublemakers.”USA Today, 3/25/16“Mehr has compiled a compelling tale full of some of the most colorful characters you’ll ever encounter on page.”, 4/7/16“Mehr reveals the untold and often unflattering story of the band, unearthing the trauma that fueled their artistry and their addictionsAn essential tome for anyone who ever loved the band.”The A.V. Club, 4/18/16“An exhaustive, unflinching biographyA guts-wide-open look at the bandWith Trouble Boys, Bob Mehr has forever changed my perception of my favorite band: I may never forgive him, but I sure won’t forget this book.”PopMatters, 4/21/16“Mehr’s ability to show the less glamorous side of the band is what makes the book such a heartbreaking narrativeA compelling readMehr does a masterful job of showing the petulance and childishness that helped make the band so great and yet also so exasperating for their fans and supporters.”Chicago Reader, 4/21/16“[A] fastidiously reported account of one of the midwest’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bandsWell-wroughtBesides being a first-rate biography, Trouble Boys imposes order on an unrelenting barrage of grotesque behavior that was leavened by several of the most beautiful, inchoate records of the ’80sIt explains why the Replacements had to collapse, leaving broken bodies and wonderful songs in their wake, over and over.”Los Angeles Review of Books, 5/4/16“[A] meticulously researched and exhaustive biographyEssential reading for their fansBut more than that, Trouble Boys is the true story of a great American failure; of a band that should have been huge—they probably could be huge right now, really—except for that small problem that real people, with real problems, were never able to get out of their own damn way.”The Economist, 5/3/16“Charts the doomed trajectory of one of America’s greatest crews of blindingly talented misfits, poised to failAn exhaustively researched, definitive biographyBrings details fans of this star-crossed act long for.”Forbes, 4/30/16“Stunningly greatThere is a depth to Trouble Boys that takes it far out of the class of ‘rock book,’ and into something that transcends the genreLike the works of Russell Banks, and others, Trouble Boys examines—in the most painfully entertaining way possible—how families of origin can shatter you to such a degree that it’s nearly impossible to ever really hold anything together in your life.”Roanoke Times, 5/8/16“With Trouble Boys, Mehr has essentially done for The Replacements what author Dave Marsh did for The Who with Before I Get Old. Both books are intricately reported, definitive rock tomes that could only have come from a fan, yet at the same time—painfully, but necessarily—they don’t let their subjects off the hook for very much at all.”The New Yorker, 5/23/16“Trouble Boys takes us to all the recording sessions, reveals the inspirations behind Westerberg’s key songs, and puts us in the front row at infamous concerts‘They were nice guys, they were dicks,’ Tommy Womack sings in ‘The Replacements.’ It is hard to imagine that anyone will make a smarter or more thorough case for both halves of that proposition than Mehr has in Trouble Boys.”Milwaukee Shepherd-Express, 5/31/16“[A] monumental piece of rock journalism.”Village Voice, Issue 22“At once heartbreaking and inspiring.”New York Observer, 6/1/16“The definitive Replacements tell-all has arrived, flying the gold star others glaringly lacked: ‘told with the participation of band members’.”Rain Taxi Review of Books, Summer 2016“A sharp portrait of complicated personalitiesAn engrossing tale about a band that was so scared to fail that they failed on purpose. A magnificent and compelling rock and roll biography.”Billboard, “100 Greatest Music Books of All Time,” 9/16/16“A deeply researched chronicle of Minneapolis’s most revered fuck-upsIt’s an apt elegy for one of rock’s most incorrigible bands.”