In the promotional video for the Pleased to Meet Me tour, Paul Westerberg mentioned that The Replacements had two sets of fans—the loudmouth drunks up front and the shy, thoughtful kids sitting way in the back. I think in some sense that remains true to this day. Recently someone commented on a Replacements video on Youtube that Bob Stinson was the “beginning, the middle and the end” of The Replacements. Never mind that he didn’t write the songs, that he was hardly present during the recording of their fifth album and was fired after that. The drunken loudmouth fan base seem (based on comments such as these on the web) to romanticize Bob. He was a Guitar God. The heart and soul of the band. Glorious in his fuckedupness. It’s an unforgivable crime that the other three cast him out, etc.
I really hate romanticism of this sort, especially when it’s tied to alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness and unbearable pain, and we know beyond a doubt how terribly afflicted Bob was by all of these things. Romanticizing such things is, at best, misplaced concern and, at worst, a destructive form of denial. Bob did not deserve the hand he was dealt. No one deserves what he got. A remarkable beauty shot through all that horror and he managed to hang on for 35 years, looked 55 when he died. His spirit helped make The Replacements what they are and always will be. I love him. How can you not love him if you love The Replacements? But may we please not put a glamorous cloak over his illnesses? Let’s see them for what they are. After all, those of us who suffer (some of whom are loudmouths up front and some the shy ones in back) cannot get better by hiding, disguising or otherwise denying our sickness. And no, we are not great because of our sickness, but we become great despite it or better yet by overcoming it. Thank you.