The following is an excerpt taken from the book No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of the Legendary City Gardens by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico, Replacements photos by Liz Sheehy.
Replacements/Ben Vaughn Combo – February 2, 1986
Ben Vaughn: It was an all-ages show on a Sunday, which meant it started early and there was no booze. I think all the booze had to be locked up. It was snowing and freezing cold outside, and everything was covered in ice. The Replacements showed up, and when they found out there was no booze… I never saw people look more scared than those guys. They were absolutely frightened that they were going to have to play a gig with no booze. They were like, “Where’s the nearest bar?” I said, “There’s one really bad one down the street.” They walked down there, down Calhoun Street through Trenton. They didn’t even have jackets on. They’re like, “We’re going,” and they left. Someone comes up to me and says, “Did you let those guys go?!” and I’m like, “I’m not their road manager.” The person was all panicked, saying “They might not come back!” I said, “That’s not my problem! But I think I know where they are.” They made it back and were appropriately disheveled, and they started off with Paul Westerberg on drums, which is not a good idea. He stayed on drums for the first half hour of the set, and I remember thinking, “Man, these guys suck.” And then we opened for them a couple nights later someplace else and they were phenomenal! The greatest thing I’d ever seen.
Randy Now: This was after Tim, their first release on a major label. All the shows prior had dismal turnouts, but this was the first that was well attended. And, of course, this is the last show they played for City Gardens because they got too big. This was the first show I charged $10 for. I got such shit from people who thought they sucked. Paul Westerberg was in the back bar after the show begging for a free hot dog—probably from Jon Stewart—and people are yelling at me for their money back.
Jackie Zahn (radio DJ): I went to the show with another DJ, Bill Rude, and we were Replacements fanatics. Before the show, we somehow ended up talking to [Replacements guitarist] Bob Stinson, and the three of us decided to go look for a bar or someplace to get a six-pack. So the three of us walked around the neighborhood and talked. There was a shopping cart involved at one point… was Bob in it? I don’t know, but I do know that we walked around the neighborhood and that we were outside, drinking.
Rich O’Brien: This show was before we had the 21-and-up lounge in the back. If you put on an all-ages show you couldn’t have alcohol. It was an all-or-nothing thing. So, this was a no-alcohol show, and even the band couldn’t drink. I guess Bob Stinson couldn’t take it and was nowhere to be found when it was time for them to go on stage. I have a tape of the show, and you can hear Paul Westerberg say, “We’re looking for a guy named Bob! A big old fat guy. If you see him, tell him to come up on stage.”
Jackie Zahn: Bob was with me and Bill. We were standing outside City Gardens drinking, and I heard music. I heard the band playing, and I turned to Bob and said, “You know, that sounds a lot like the Replacements.” He laughed and said, “That can’t be. I’m in the band.” So, we all had a bit of a laugh. A couple minutes later I said, “Listen, that really sounds like your band,” and he was like, “No, I don’t think so.” Then, suddenly, their road manager, or somebody, comes storming over to us, screaming at Bob, “Get in there!” He called him a bunch of names. “Where have you been? Everybody’s looking for you! Get on stage!” Bob was like, “Oh, okay.”
Rich O’Brien: On the tape, you hear Bob finally get on stage while they were playing “I Will Dare.”
Jackie Zahn: Bob, Bill, and I walk in, and we had to walk through the crowd. We didn’t walk backstage or anything. Everybody was looking at us. We got up to the stage, [Bob goes up], and Paul Westerberg spit on him.
Rich O’Brien: I can still picture Bob climbing up on stage and Paul saying, “You’re fired!” He spit on him. It wasn’t long after that that Bob got kicked out of the band.
Jackie Zahn: That look that Paul Westerberg gave him was …. I felt like shit. I was like, this isn’t my fault, but I felt like it was my fault. But it wasn’t my fault, because I told him twice! Twice I said I thought his band was playing and that he should be in there.
Rich O’Brien: The thing about that show was that they weren’t drunk. By then, the “drunk” shows were legendary, and people were pissed that they were sober and only played their own songs. They didn’t do covers anymore.
Jackie Zahn: After it was over, Bill [Rude], Bob, and I got into Bill’s car. I don’t know where we went, but I don’t think we got very far. At one point, Bill turned to me as he’s driving and said, “Oh my God, Bob Stinson is in my car.” But one thing I will not forget is that I said to him, “That sounds like The Replacements,” and he said, “It can’t be.”
[Bob Stinson was not in the band much longer. Later that year, he left the Replacements. Whether he left voluntarily or was kicked out is still a point of contention. Bob Stinson died of organ failure related to long-term drug abuse on February 18, 1995. He was 35 years old.]