Paul Westerberg (born December 31, 1959) is an American musician, best known as the former lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter of The Replacements, one of the seminal alternative rock bands of the 1980s. He launched a solo career after the dissolution of that band. In recent years, he has cultivated a more independent-minded approach, primarily recording his music at home in his basement.
Main article: The Replacements
According to Replacements lore, Westerberg was working as a janitor, and while walking home from work one day, he happened to hear a punk band practicing in a basement. He talked his way into the band by convincing the singer that the other band members--Bob Stinson, Chris Mars and Tommy Stinson--were going to fire him. The singer quit and Westerberg joined the group. The band was originally called "The Impediments," but they changed their name to "The Replacements" after several venues declined to advertise the band under their original name.
The Replacements quickly made a name for themselves in the Twin Cities punk scene, largely thanks to Westerberg's songwriting. The band made several critically acclaimed albums for local label Twin/Tone before signing to Sire Records in 1985. Despite the jump to Sire, the Replacements never translated their critical success into commercial sales.
By 1990, the band had run its course. The 1990 Replacements album All Shook Down was for all intents and purposes a Westerberg solo project. There are numerous guest performers and the other three members of the band (including Slim Dunlap, who had replaced Bob Stinson three years earlier to tour in support of Pleased to Meet Me) make minimal contributions. Mars left the band during this project. After touring for the album (which was critically well-received) with replacement Replacements, Tommy and Paul went their separate ways.
Westerberg's first official solo work appeared in the form of two songs, "Waiting For Somebody" and "Dyslexic Heart," for the soundtrack to the 1992 Cameron Crowe film Singles, for which he is also credited with composing and performing the score. The following year Reprise Records released his first solo album, 14 Songs. During the interim between solo albums, Westerberg songs appeared on Melrose Place ("A Star Is Bored") and Friends (his cover of Jonathan Edwards' "Sunshine" and "Stain Yer Blood") television soundtracks, in 1994 and 1995 respectively. In 2007, "Dyslexic Heart" was used in Smart People movie trailer, a selection made by music supervisor Serena Undercofler.
Westerberg co-wrote the song "Backlash" with Joan Jett for her 1991 album Notorious, and played guitar with her on a video of the song. He also recorded a duet with Jett ("Let's Do It") for the Tank Girl soundtrack (1994).
1996 heralded his second solo album, the appropriately titled Eventually, which was tepidly received by critics and had modest sales. It did yield the alternative radio hit, "Love Untold". Westerberg parted ways with Reprise records and the following year chose to release songs that were more blues influenced and less slickly produced under the name Grandpaboy. An EP and single were released by indie label Soundproof/Monolyth Records. His third album Suicaine Gratifaction is a piano-driven, melancholy, and highly personal work. The album was released on Capitol Records in 1999. The label was undergoing reorganization, and failed to push the album. Westerberg appeared on a fifth season episode of The Larry Sanders Show (entitled "Larry's New Love") performing "Ain't Got Me" from Eventually. The episode first aired Wednesday, February 26, 1997. Westerberg also performed the song that same year on The Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno.
Westerberg then quit the major label circuit and disappeared for three years before staging a major comeback in 2002. With new management and a new independent label, Vagrant Records, he released two records simultaneously, Stereo and Mono (Mono being released under his alter ego Grandpaboy). Stereo and Mono were recorded in Westerberg's basement studio. They were acclaimed as his best works since the Replacements, and Westerberg became increasingly prolific, releasing Dead Man Shake (as Grandpaboy), Come Feel Me Tremble, and Folker all within the next two years to critical success.
Westerberg contributed a cover of The Beatles' "Nowhere Man" for the 2002 soundtrack to the 2001 film I Am Sam. Additionally, "Lookin' Up in Heaven" appears on the Starbucks sampler Hear Music, Vol. 10: Reveal, "Outta My System" can be found on Hot Stove, Cool Music, Vol. 1, and the Vagrant Records sampler Another Year on the Streets, Vol. 3 features "As Far As I Know." All three compilations were released in 2004.
In December 2005, Westerberg reconvened with Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars to record two new songs for a compilation titled Don't You Know Who I Think I Was? - The Best of the Replacements, which was released in 2006.
In 2006, Westerberg took on the challenge of writing a collection of songs for the animated film Open Season. In all, the soundtrack includes eight new Westerberg originals. It is unique in that two of the songs were covered by other artists. The track "Wild As I Wanna Be" is performed by Deathray, whereas Pete Yorn performs "I Belong (Reprise)." In addition, Tommy Stinson is featured playing bass on the songs "Love You In The Fall" and "Right To Arm Bears." The soundtrack also includes the song "Good Day" from Westerberg's solo album Eventually. The album is rounded out by two non-Westerberg originals, Deathray's own "I Wanna Lose Control (Uh Oh)" and the Talking Heads' 1986 hit "Wild Wild Life."
Seen on stage playing a First Act production model guitar, Westerberg joined creative forces with the Boston based guitar manufacturer to create his signature edition PW580 in September 2006. Built with a red plaid pickguard, the guitar was designed to be "mean and lean".
On July 17, 2008 it was announced that on "June 49" (July 19) Paul Westerberg would release an album with 49 minutes' worth of music for 49 cents. The album, 49:00... Of Your Time/Life, was released on , 2008. A few weeks after 49:00 was released, it was taken down from Amazon.com and TuneCore store. In its place, Westerberg released a song titled "5:05" (in reference to the fact that 49:00 was really 43:55 long, 5:05 shorter than 49:00). From the lyrical content of "5:05," it is believed that 49:00 was recalled due to copyright issues in the ending cover medley.
On August 27, 2008, Westerberg released two new songs, "3oclockreep" and "Finally Here Once" on TuneCore.
On September 13, 2008 another new song "Bored of Edukation" was released as an MP3 download on Amazon.com.
On December 24, 2008 Westerberg released three songs; "Always in a Manger," "Streets of Laredo," and "D.G.T." on tunecore.com for $0.74.
On September 22, 2009 Westerberg released an EP titled "PW & The Ghost Gloves Cat Wing Joy Boys" along with six songs; "Ghost On The Canvas," "Drop Them Gloves," "Good As The Cat," "Love On The Wing," "Gimmie Little Joy," and "Dangerous Boys"
Westerberg is married to former Zuzu's Petals guitarist Laurie Lindeen. They have a son, Johnny (born 1998), whose voice is likely on 49:00 and "Whatever Makes You Happy" from Westerberg's solo album Suicaine Gratifaction. Westerberg severely injured his fretting hand in 2006, in an accident while trying to remove candle wax with a screwdriver, and as of 2008 had since performed only one live show. He resides in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. His younger sister, Mary Lucia, is a D.J. at local radio station 89.3 The Current.