S2 — Episode 1 — April 20, 2022
Riches to Rags — (2022) — Bleeding Hearts
The highway to hell in rock and roll is not paved with good intentions, it’s paved with lost albums, and death.
In the case of Minneapolis band Bleeding Hearts, it’s both.
But thanks to the fine folks at Bar None Records, the bands 30+ year-old album, Riches to Rags, is finally seeing the light of day.
Twin Cities native and Bleeding Heart front man Mike Leonard wanted to become a musician the moment he discovered Elvis Presley and as he got older, that’s exactly what he did.
Starting the band as a three-piece, Leonard always had the intention of having a second guitarist and after befriending The Replacements founder Bob Stinson at a bar, he had found one.
Besides being the founder of one of the most seminal bands in modern music, Bob Stinson is also the cautionary tale, and one of the more tragicomic characters, of the era.
He also happened to be a damn fine guitar player.
Stinson was kicked out of the band he had founded shortly after the tour supporting their major-label debut Tim (by his younger brother no less). After that he kicked around Minneapolis in various bands, battling his demons and addictions while riding on the fumes of his soon-to-be legendary status as a Replacement.
After befriending Stinson, Leonard tapped him to be the second guitarist in Bleeding Hearts; however, after one rehearsal, he decided it was a bad idea. At Stinson’s urging they got a different guy, who played with the band for about nine-months.
After seeing the band a few times, and the departure of his (ahem) replacement, Stinson approached Leonard again about joining the Bleeding Hearts again.
Bleeding Hearts were beginning to get some attention and not just because Bob Stinson was in the band — the songs are really great dirty rock songs. With Stinson in tow, the four-piece (Leonard, Stinson, bassist Rob Robello and drummer Pat McKenna) began bashing around the Twin Cities competitive music scene.
In early 1993, the band went into the studio to record some music for a potential album. For better or worse, but mostly worse, that’s when Spin Magazine sent Charles Aaron to Minneapolis to profile Bob Stinson.
The resulting article, “Hold My Life: Bob Stinson Regrets”, torpedoed any hope the band may have had of potentially reaching a national audience.
By late summer of 1993, Leonard and co. made it into the studio to finish recording Riches to Rags. Unfortunately, the Spin Magazine article had come out and Bob Stinson had spiraled out of control.
While Bleeding Hearts had managed to capture an albums worth of material, it remained unheard… until now.
Lucky for us, and such is the way, good music won’t stay silent forever.
Bob Stinson died in February 1995, but not of a drug overdose — all the years of abuse and addiction had resulted in organ failure.
On this episode of Abandoned Albums, Mike Leonard stops by Thurderlove Studios and chats it up with Rob Janicke and me to let us know WTF it was like working with Bob Stinson and why Riches to Rags was on ice for 30+ years.