Behind the Band Name: The Replacements

During their time together, the Replacements never saw what the music industry deems as “success,” but talent is in the ear of the beholder. Whether they were thought to be reckless or spirited, sloppy or unconventional, the punk rockers made undoubtedly attention-grabbing music. In turn, they were beloved by a select, but deeply devoted, few. And isn’t that in itself success?

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It took a while for the Replacements to become the band they’re remembered as today, and it most likely began when they decided to replace their original band name … Dogbreath.

Behind the Name

The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based band – comprised of frontman Paul Westerberg, brothers Bob and Tommy Stinson on guitar and bass respectively, and drummer Chris Mars – came to be in 1979. The ragtag bunch blossomed from their humble beginnings as a garage punk band to today’s cult favorites.

The band originally went by the name Dogbreath and then the Impediments, but changed their name again after a drunken and disorderly gig led them to be banned from a local venue. Enter the Replacements.

According to Michael Azerrad’s 2001 book, Our Band Could Be Your Life, the name came to the band by way of Westerburg not long after Mars had suggested the moniker the Substitutes. “Like maybe the main act doesn’t show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags,” Mars explained the idea behind the name. “It seemed to sit just right with us, accurately describing our collective ‘secondary’ social esteem.”

Get a feel for what the group was like in the below 1989 interview with Westerberg and Tommy Stinson on MTV News. They talk about the shape of music, discuss the legacy of the ’80s, and chain-smoke like it’s going out of style.

The Replacements Today

After over a decade together, the band called it quits in 1991 after saying goodbye to fans with an extensive farewell run of live shows. The band would reunite more than 20 years later in 2012, releasing the EP, Songs for Slim, and playing a string of festival dates. The reunited Replacements went on like this for a few years, performing shows here and there, but their regrouping was ultimately short-lived. The band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2015.

Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns

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