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Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  2,934 ratings  ·  439 reviews
Trouble Boys is the first definitive, no-holds-barred biography of one of the last great bands of the twentieth century: The Replacements. With full participation from reclusive singer and chief songwriter Paul Westerberg, bassist Tommy Stinson, guitarist Slim Dunlap, and the family of late band co-founder Bob Stinson, author Bob Mehr is able to tell the real story of this
Kindle Edition, 521 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by Da Capo Press
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Rodney Release date per Ingram is March 1, 2016.

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May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I met the Replacements (well, two of them) after one of their shows when I was a young teen. My friend and I were lingering in a hallway, killing time before my father arrived to collect us when suddenly, a door opened and out stepped Tommy and Paul, chatting and laughing. When they spotted us they didn’t even hesitate to walk over, say hello and thank us for attending their show. They both hugged me, and Tommy sweetly kissed my cheek. They were utterly charming and acted as if they couldn’t hav ...more
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Replacements are my favorite band, so this review is not objective. I don't know how it'll read to neophytes, but this is the book die hard fans have been waiting for. Mehr should be commended for the decade he put into it.
Given the group is made up of typically cagey Midwesterners, this is probably the most revealing portrait of them we'll ever get. I finished it with a greater appreciation of their music, and a more thorough understanding of the dynamics within the group. Mehr also made ma
Angie and the Daily Book Dose
Wow, I have never read a musical biography so well written and documented. This book was like the music of The Replacements themselves, full of emotion and never boring. This book made me feel. I ran the full gamut of emotions from elation to anger to gut wrenching sorrow. Bob Mehr, you've done well.

I savored this account of the rise and fall of the band. The personalities of the 'Mats came through, and the music itself is somehow more understandable. The work is meaty and full of anecdotes.

Scott Adams
The line between drunken shenanigans and dickishness can be a blurry one, especially depending on which side of the bottle you're on, but damn, what a bunch of dicks.

Bob Stinson, the guy who had more of an excuse than the others (all sorts of terrible childhood stuff, including molestation) was less of a dick than the others and seemed like an amiable, if troubled guy, with the other three (although mostly Paul and Tommy) rotating between King Asshole.

And for a band that really only had 3 1/2 g
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I am a Minneapolis native who discovered the Replacements when I was 14, and the first time I saw them perform is actually mentioned in these pages: an all-ages show with Slim at First Avenue on May 27, 1987 (yes, I am that obsessive 'Mats nut who remembers the day and still has her ticket stub in a box in the attic). When I was in junior high, burning through all the Twin/Tone vinyl I could get my hands on, I wanted a book like this, but I'm glad Bob Mehr didn't write it until I was a gray-hair ...more
Dr. Detroit
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
To be honest, I sort of wish I'd never read this because Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson come off as two of the biggest d'bags in the history of pop music.

Your results may vary.
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It has been hard for me to put into words just how much reading this book meant to me. The Replacements have long been one of my favorite bands (if not my all-time favorite) for as long as I can remember, and I read this during an intense week dealing with doctors and solitary travel, so much of my time with this book saw me in waiting rooms, hotels, trains, and cafes alone, anxious over my own personal battles, which may have heightened my connection to the tumultuous times recounted here. Seco ...more
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Look, I read a lot of these rock biographies. They don't have to be particularly well-written to be enjoyable. Trouble Boys is special. It's better than good. It's great. Bob Mehr indulges in no flashy prose. He disseminates information gleaned from 230 interviewees and a decade of full-access research, forms it into one of the tightest, most cohesive and entertaining biographical narratives I’ve ever read. He doesn’t mythologize the band or glorify the endless boozy exploits. He simply tells Th ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First of all, that cover photo of Tommy Stinson... am I right? Heartbreaker. Secondly, poor Bob never had a chance. I am talking out-of-the-gate, he deserved better. This is a great read, Westerberg has some great stuff, and he can come across as an ass (human?!). This book is as close as you're going to get to drinking beer at the Uptown with the boys themselves. ...more
Duke Haney
A pertinent excerpt from my novel, Banned for Life, which was published seven years ago (as hard as I find that to believe) and is set (part of it anyway) in the underground music scene of 1980s New York City:

"But for me the greatest band of their time was, hands down, the Replacements. They’d take the stage drunk off their asses, and they didn’t give one fuck what you or anybody else thought; they were going to do things their way. Peewee considered them a so-so bar band at best, but I still s
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
So . . . nearly a year after getting the book in hardcover and like nine days after downloading the audiobook read by Mary Lucia, I’ve finished Trouble Boys. I have, as the kids say, so many feels. All the feels. Oceans and galaxies of feels. Unmeasurable and unmentionable feels. I have feels as a writer & reader, a fan, and a cranky 45-year-old feminist killjoy. That’s a bunch of feels, don’t you agree? read more. ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It took me a long time to suss this, but Paul Westerberg is a great songwriter. My way in was an odd one: Through his cover of an old folk song called "Mr. Rabbit." Which is a great old folk song and an amazing cover. Then I spent a month playing almost nothing but Westerberg's melancholy, turn-of-the-millennium solo album "In Stereo," which includes his cover of "Mr. Rabbit." From there, I began to check out the Replacements' back catalog. I always knew the band had some good songs. But I've co ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific 'Mats details and anecdotes and stories and such. Definitely worth reading if you're a big fan.

But am I the only one who feels - notices, realises - that the writing is sort of..... shit.....? I mean the actual writing. The prose. If I have to read one more god damn formulaic segue from describing a need for a fucking minor A&R man or roadie or person they meet on the street for two seconds and who's never mentioned again like

". . . And just when it seemed the least likely that the 'Mat
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, recent-reads
Incredible. One of the most engrossing and heartbreaking books I've ever read. Mehr has not only written THE book on The Replacements, but has also written a painstaking meditation on the intersection of creativity, artistic expression, substance abuse, and mental illness.

Darn near perfect.
Lloyd Nelson
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been waiting for this book since I first heard "I Will Dare" in college. Like the band itself, it can be all over the place and rough, but it ultimately delivers in a very special way. ...more
Tim Nokken
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must read book for any fan of the band...any fan of rock biographies/histories, really. Mehr's work in this book is extremely impressive. Key among his contributions, is that he interviewed the members of the band, which is a rare feat. Beyond, that, though, he speaks to scores of others who knew the band: other musicians, family members, record company people...literally scores of individuals. The result is a great read that manages to walk the line between fan boy critic and journalist. The ...more
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I always knew '80s band the Replacements were a bunch of self-saboteurs. I never knew the full extent of it. Bob Mehr has written a "band biography" that elevates the genre with its detail and its straightforwardness. You can tell Mehr has a fondness for the band. He still pulls no punches. Surprisingly, all the living members cooperated with the writing of the book, as did many of their family members and ex-wives and girlfriends. The tales of debauchery and redemption -- and more debauchery -- ...more
David Roe
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bittersweet like a movie where you knew the characters were not going to live happily ever after, they were just going to keep on. I found my myself listening to whole albums of The Replacements between chapters with different ears. Knowing the daily struggles the band went through just to make it through a day, the making of an album was a monumental lesson in futility for everyone involved. If you love this band, or even just like this band, this book is a must-read.
Dave Purcell
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Compelling, well-written, and extensively documented. If you're a fan, it's hard to put down, but it's not necessarily a fun read. It gets tiring to see the band continually shoot themselves in the foot (and the head and heart) and be dicks to everyone who tries to help. If Paul Westerberg isn't the least sympathetic figure in rock history, he's in the team photo. ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started to read Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” at the same time I began Bob Mehr’s “Trouble Boys,” the biography of the legendary but ill-starred Minneapolis rock band the Replacements. At some point, the two stories seemed to merge with each other, with parallel tales of alcohol abuse, fraternal conflict, patricidal impulses, crippling professional indecision, and existential confusion. Not to mention that both feature pivotal scenes on locations named Lake Street, one south Minneapol ...more
Cassie Rauch
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i love my boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Anyone who listens to college radio and indie rock and pop in general is going to know who the Replacements are. These listeners probably revere the records Let It Be, Tim and Pleased to Meet Me as classics of indie rock (which hilarious since two of them were on a major label) and yet if you try to talk to the non-initiated about the Replacements, you are bound to get strange looks. And yet, when you consider the success of R.E.M. and the fact they were contemporaries of the Replacements and fr ...more
Anthony Crupi
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With apologies to the Wrens, the 'Mats remain the most quizzically under-appreciated American rock 'n' roll band, and so run—don't walk—to your nearest bricks-&-mortar record shop and scarf up Hootenanny, Let It Be, Tim and Pleased to Meet Me, for starters. Still doesn't make this meticulously researched 457-page dirge any more endurable, but then again it sucks when someone comes along and offers unarguable evidence that your heroes were a bunch of borderline sociopaths and assholes, so what ca ...more
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
An incredibly well-written, well-researched book with a gut punch of a prologue and epilogue, both. Steve Albini steals the narrative show, as he is wont to do.

I understand the colloquial, familiar use of 'Mats as a shorthand for The Replacements between fans, but also loathe its presence in this book and wish I could have done a find-and-replace for all instances because what an annoying nickname to read over and over and over and over and over. (184 times in the book)

The epilogue has affected
Unofficial Zac Bishop
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
good rock doc book. Instead of the whole “woah these guys sure were nuts!” It actually gets behind that to the not so cool punk guy aspects of being an off the rails musician. Very through (long) at times getting into the family history of the third manager they hired or whatever but although sometimes trying, the thoroughness is what makes this ‘deep dive’ such an interesting read.

Oh and yeah um good band! Rock on
John Nondorf
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best band bio I've ever read. Mehr digs into the family histories of all Replacements members and some of the major players in their lives to find out what made them tick. Some myths dispelled, most verified. Found myself frustrated with the chronic self-destruction, but it's an honest portrait of some beautiful and damaged people. ...more
Dave Brown
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read my full review here -- ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
So confession #1; The Replacements are my favorite band and have been since The Channel Club in Boston in 1984 or 1985 (I don’t remember which).
Confession #2: They say don’t meet your heroes and through this book I did finally meet my heroes; drunk, flawed, angry and passive-aggressive men. They all also came from backgrounds of neglect, pain and abuse, perhaps making them the flawed individuals that they were/are. It was often a tough read.
But boy could they play! And boy, can Westerberg writ
Lance Dale
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most in-depth music biography I have read. Bob Mehr really did his homework on this one. If you ever listened to these guys and wondered why they never achieved mainstream success, it is all in this book. They were a total train wreck who pretty much sabotaged themselves at every turn.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is how it's done.

Bob Mehr's Replacements biography, "Trouble Boys," (4.5 stars rounded up) is a marvelous document of a great rock band, a book that's efficient and inclusive at the same time. There's not a boring page in the book.

Granted, it would be hard not to write a lively chronicle of the sloppy/brilliant, deviant rascals who were Minneapolis' Replacements, but Mehr's work is much more than a litany of men/boys behaving badly. (Favorite quote, though there are plenty of great ones: "
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“Drink, drugs, and women were never in short supply. On one occasion, they were both engaged with girls in the back of the bus when they decided they wanted to switch dates, but somehow do it tactfully. “We were like, ‘Let’s you and I start making out, then we’ll swap.’ I think it worked, if I recall,” said Stinson. “He’s the only dude I’ve ever made out with.” Back” 2 likes
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