In 1985 in an interview for The NME with R.E.M. for their recently released third album, Fables of the Reconstruction, journalist Andy Gill named them as one of the four most important American bands of the time alongside Husker Du, The Meat Puppets and The Replacements. The last of these were not too well known in Britain at the time but were busy making themselves a reputation as much for their loose lifestyle and attitude as for their records though they'd recently released Let It Be, an album that in time came to serve as a mission statement.
Its cover spoke as loudly as the music on the record about the band and what they had to offer. The four band members stretched louchely across the roof of Tommy and Bob Stinson's mother's house, Tommy rubbing his eyes, Bob and lead singer Paul Westerberg engaged in some kind of drawled interaction, drummer Chris Mars staring vaguely into the camera. The whole picture arranged in a melancholy blueish tint. It was a masterful picture, to match the brazen theft of a Beatles album title which the record appropriated. It was pretty much the blueprint for Nirvana and Grunge.
Bob Stinson, more than any of the band represented the true spirit of the early Replacements. Heavy drinking, substance abusing, unkempt but strangely driven by principle to remain true to themselves regardless of what the industry planned to do to them. Bob was the first casualty, sacked by the band, or perhaps he left of his own accord according to which story you wish to believe shortly after they signed to WEA his ghost continued to haunt the best of their music even after he departed. Here Comes a Regular, from Tim the last of their albums he played on and among their greatest songs may as well have been about him. It possibly was.
"Whether he was thrown out for the way his alleged alcohol problems had destroyed his skills or he left voluntarily due to creative tension is a moot point," according to Prefix Magazine. "What matters is this: Stinson was gone, and with him went much of the band's edge."
Bob's decline after he left the band was sad but steady. He died in his apartment in Minneapolis in 1995. He remains to a large extent the still beating heart of a band even now greatly loved and revered.