When Jon Bon Jovi Took a Swipe at the Replacements
In February 1989, the Replacements appeared on the cover of Musician Magazine with a headline crowning them “The Last, Best Band of the ‘80s.” The unofficial title didn’t sit well with one of the era’s biggest stars: Jon Bon Jovi.
The Replacements had developed a strong following throughout the ‘80s thanks to their pioneering alt-rock style. With earnest lyrics and the raw vocals of frontman Paul Westerberg, the group carved themselves a distinctive niche among underground rock fans. They weren’t scoring platinum albums or chart-topping hits, but they were highly respected by the “cool kids.”
At the other end of the spectrum sat Bon Jovi. The group had released four studio albums by ‘89, all of which were platinum-selling hits. The biggest success was 1986's Slippery When Wet, a worldwide phenomenon that launched Bon Jovi into rock’s upper echelon thanks to classic tracks like “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Still, despite their huge commercial success, the band was generally dismissed by critics. For Jon Bon Jovi, reading praise heaped upon the Replacements seemingly struck a nerve.
“‘The Last Great Band of the ‘80s.’ Yeah, right,” the rocker scoffed during his own conversation with Musician. “I never heard of these guys, but I guess you’re an artist if you’re on the cover of Musician magazine.”
According to Replacements biographer Bob Mehr, Westerberg couldn’t help but respond with a swipe of his own when he heard about Bon Jovi's reaction.
“How many critical raves has he had?” the Replacements frontman reportedly smirked. “Sure, I might trade bank accounts [with Bon Jovi], but I wouldn't want [his] pants."
The Replacements broke up in 1991 but eventually reunited more than two decades later. Bon Jovi, meanwhile, has continued to enjoy massive commercial success for nearly 40 years.
In 2016, Mehr got to ask Jon Bon Jovi about his Replacements comment, but the frontman claimed he had no recollection of the incident.