J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Notes From Underground - #50
Steve Foley - 1959 : 2008

You have to wonder how often working musicians pass away without any sort of notice. There are hundreds and hundreds of people who make a living as fill-ins, backups, touring members and session players. They are all, most likely, incredibly competent at what they do, but just aren't famous the way that other artists are. And I couldn't help but think about this when I read about the Replacements' replacement, Steve Foley, dying earlier this week.

As the Replacements were on their last legs following the release of All Shook Down, founding member/drummer Chris Mars had taken off and the remaining band needed a time keeper. Steve had played in numerous Minneapolis bands over the years and was a skilled and talented drummer. He got the nod and filled in for the entirety of the Replacements' last tour, including their final show at Grant Park in Chicago on July 4th, 1991. He continued working with Tommy Stinson in his first post-Replacements band, Bash and Pop, playing on their one and only album, Friday Night is Killing Me. From all accounts Steve was a sweet and genuinely good man and despite struggling with personal problems off and on, his death was accidental and unexpected.

My first encounter with Steve's playing would've been my, sadly, misplaced cassette bootleg of that July 4th, 1991 show. When I first got All Shook Down, I had been mightily underwhelmed by it. So when I heard songs like "Bent Out of Shape," "Someone Take the Wheel" and a few others from that album done live, with a seriously pounding drummer behind it, they lept to life in a way that they still haven't on the record. And Steve's playing with Bash and Pop? That record is one of the best Replacements-related projects, hands down, and his playing is no small part of that.

Outside of the fierce community of Replacements fans and Foley's family, there aren't going to be a lot of tributes. Though he certainly deserves a place at the memorial montage at the Grammys next year, I'm sure he won't be on it. Musicians like Steve Foley, talented, deserving and memorable, but who mostly serve to make other people's work better, don't get any face time. As it is I couldn't even quickly locate a picture of Steve for this article - I had to settle for a Bash and Pop promo photo. It's the fate of people who are drawn to music, who aren't the front men, who are never there to start a band that takes off, who occasionally fill in and maybe land somewhere special for a bit, as Steve did with the 'Mats. Steve worked with many other locally famous and legendary Minneapolis bands, but the Replacements were the biggest of them.

Steve Foley had plenty in his life, undoubtedly, outside of his sometimes-life as a musician, but that's how I know him and that's how I remember him. It's why it saddened me to hear of his loss. Sometimes you're just not sure what to say. You just know something makes you sad.

Thanks, Steve.

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  • At 2:14 PM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It appears that Steve Foley fell off a bit. The man was simply too good a drummer and person to be selling cars for a living.


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