He was only in the band for its final year (1990-91), but the Replacements' replacement drummer Steve Foley told biographer Jim Walsh, "It will always be a treasure in my mind."
"Some days I walk down the street and go, 'God, I was in that [expletive] band?' Unbelievable. It is."
Foley, 49, died over the weekend of an apparent accidental drug overdose, said his sister, Colleen Foley. He was found at home in Minneapolis by some co-workers Monday when he did not show up for his job as a car salesman.
Steve was "by-the-book sober" for almost 15 years after the whirlwind with the Replacements, Colleen said, but he struggled with anxiety and depression in recent years.
"He was such a lovable guy -- a total cornball who specialized in bad puns and corny jokes," she said.
LeeAnn Weimar, a Minneapolis concert promoter and close friend, said, "This is not your typical rock-guy-on-drugs story. He was really struggling, but we know he definitely wasn't trying to check out."
After the Replacements, Foley and his brother, Kevin, joined 'Mats bassist Tommy Stinson in his band Bash & Pop, which released an acclaimed 1993 album, "Friday Night Is Killing Me," on Sire/Reprise Records. Stinson now performs with Guns N' Roses.
Prior to joining Stinson and frontman Paul Westerberg in the Replacements in 1990 -- when original drummer Chris Mars bowed out -- Foley performed with local rock stalwart Curtiss A for a decade. Some of the other Twin Cities bands he drummed with include Wheelo, Snaps, Bang Zoom, Trailer Trash, Things That Fall Down and the Suprees.
"Foley was a beautiful and gentle soul, the kind of dude that strange things happened to," recalled Mary Lucia, a DJ at The Current (89.3 FM).
The story of how he joined the Replacements was perhaps weirdest of all.
As recounted in Walsh's book, "All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History of the Replacements," Stinson and Westerberg randomly ran into Foley at the C.C. Club in Minneapolis while looking for a new drummer. They left for an audition in Foley's car, which happened to have the band's just-issued CD "All Shook Down" cranking in the stereo.
"They looked at each other and went, 'You're already in,'" Foley told Walsh.
Foley grew up in the Hopkins area with a tight-knit crew of six siblings, all of whom were music nuts, his sister said. His late father "grouched" about Steve wanting to play the drums professionally until the day he played with the Replacements at the Orpheum Theatre.
"Dad couldn't have been happier, and neither could Steve," Colleen said.
Visitation will be Friday at 11 a.m. at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel, 5000 W. 50th St., Edina, with a service to follow and burial at Lakewood Cemetery.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658