I was a roadie for The Replacements and lived to tell the tale.

By Todd McGovern

Sullivan_Lemon coverHe was christened “Father O’Ruckus” by Paul Westerberg, who would also sometimes introduce him as “Spilly.” He had one of the hardest jobs in rock-and-roll throughout most of the 1980s. He was driver, roadie, security, tech guy, procurer of beer, liquor, cigarettes, drugs and floors to sleep on. He broke up rousing games of “Beer Baseball” to get the band onstage and he also spread stink bombs in the middle of mosh pits (at the request of drummer Chris Mars and guitarist Bob Stinson) to clear the show. He was responsible for getting the band from city to city, show to show, on time and as sober as humanly possible. His name was Bill Sullivan and the band was The Replacements.

Bill Sullivan was born into a strict Irish Catholic family and raised in the same Southwest Minneapolis neighborhood as Replacements members Paul Westerberg and Chris Mars, as well as Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner. After high school and a stab at higher learning, he worked as a night security guard at The Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, where he’d run from bar to bar before work, seeing local bands. After a brief time tagging along with The Replacements and lugging their equipment at local gigs, he talked his way onto the band’s first tour of the East Coast following the release of their EP, STINK.

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