This week, while on tour with Guns N' Roses in Israel, Tommy Stinson let slip that he and fellow former Replacement Paul Westerberg were working on a song together to benefit their old guitarist, Slim Dunlap, who suffered a debilitating stroke this past winter. Slim's wife, Chrissie, and the Replacements' former manager, Peter Jesperson confirm the benefit project, but it's not your run-of-the-mill tribute album.
"Tribute records can be so ubiquitous and don't necessarily sell well," says Jesperson, who was inspired to form the seminal Minneapolis label Twin/Tone Records after seeing Dunlap's pre-Replacements band Thumbs Up. Instead, the covers of Dunlap's original songs, currently being curated by Jesperson, singer Joe Henry, and Stinson, will be released as a series of limited-edition split seven-inch singles, sold via auction to better maximize funds to aid Dunlap's difficult rehabilitation, which isn't covered by insurance.
Jesperson has 14 artists on board and counting, although none he wanted to reveal, and even Westerberg and Stinson's song selection has yet to be finalized. The artwork for the singles, which should start rolling out this fall, will be done by original Replacements drummer turned painter Chris Mars, who recently released "When I Fall Down," his first song in over 15 years in honor of the 60-year-old Dunlap. Dunlap joined the Replacements in 1987 after original guitarist Bob Stinson was ousted.
"As he recovers, slowly, Slim is starting to realize that he has a lot of friends and fans, and this is really helping him want to heal," says Chrissie Dunlap, who revealed in February that her husband's stroke left him paralyzed on his left side, and has since has suffered numerous complications, including four separate bouts with pneumonia.
As integral as the project is to help with mounting medical bills, it also inevitably invites a critical reappraisal of Dunlap's non-Replacements work — he released two solo albums in the '90s, after the Replacements' split — and reminds how tightly knit the Minneapolis scene is, nearly three decades after its heyday. "I love Slim, he's one of the coolest guys I've ever known," says Jesperson. "I want to do this right and do him justice."
Find out how to make donations to the rehab fund set up by Dunlap's friend Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites here.