The CC Club: An oral history

The iconic bar's owners, famous patrons, and hometown regulars remember the dive's best moments

Check out our behind the scenes look at the CC Club

Jesperson: I think eventually Matt and Moe just kind of gave in to the thing, and they even eventually kind of embraced it to the point of making those T-shirts that said, "Achin' to Be at the CC," or whatever it is. Little Replacements references.

Stinson: We spent countless hours in there talking, doing business, drinking, and just general tomfoolery over there. You know, just general goofing off. Wasting time, precious time, and brain cells. We kind of lived there through the '80s. It was the place to go and meet and do the crap we were into.

Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner was one of many musicians who turned the CC Club into his living room.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.
When David Prass bought the CC in 1974, he changed the bar's name to the CC Club and made T-shirts to announce it.

Bell: Paul [Westerberg] did a lot of his interviews during the day in here. I remember he did one with Rolling Stone, back there by the pool tables. He asked if I wanted to get in some pictures with him, but I said no.

Jesperson: I remember when [Rolling Stone journalist] David Fricke first came to Minneapolis to interview Westerberg. I think I picked him up at the airport actually, and brought him to the CC. So you think about that, a journalist who's now one of the senior editors at Rolling Stone magazine and writes the liner notes for half of the records released these days that are like archival pieces, he was hanging out there.

David Fricke, Rolling Stone senior editor: Paul obviously felt comfortable there. He was funny and thoughtful, warm and open with the right edge of confrontation. I remember that the ham and cheese sandwich I had was good and that Paul and I enjoyed a few Stroh's beers as we talked. He also kept putting quarters in the jukebox, which got us talking about his favorite records. In the piece, I noted that he punched up Elton John's "Rocket Man," Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," and Cher's "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves." The last one got us into a minor argument — he loved the song. I hated it.

The Replacements released the album Tim in October 1985, which included the song "Here Comes a Regular," widely thought to refer to the CC Club.

Stinson: I wouldn't know [if the song's about the CC], but it wouldn't be surprising. We spent countless hours and time hanging out there. When I hear the song, of course, sure, easily [I think of the bar].

Jesperson: I always picture that place when I hear that song. I think that if you ask Paul [Westerberg] he'd probably say that it's written about — I don't know if he'd cop to it or not — but yeah, I think it was. There were a lot of us who were regulars there, and to some degree that was a good thing, and to some degree it was like, Jesus, we're all at a certain point when we needed to cut back on our drinking. So it's a little of each. There's a positive and a negative to it in some ways.

G.R. Anderson Jr., Twin Cities journalist: I mean, it sounds like it was written in that place. Who knows what a song is about, but it sure sounds like the CC Club to me, the CC Club that I know. And the place always got awfully quiet when you played it on the jukebox.

In 1990, the Replacements released what would be their final album. Before the subsequent tour, original drummer Chris Mars left the band, and the remaining members turned to the CC to find a new one.

Pirner: My favorite story is the Replacements sitting around without a drummer and saying they were going to hire the next drummer who walks through the door.

Stinson: It happened like that, and it was kind of a funny fluke. We hired Steve Foley at the CC. He happened to walk in the door right as we were thinking, "Oh we need a drummer." Then he walked in the door and we said, "Oh, there you are. You're the drummer." And it turned out that he was pretty good too, so that helps.

Anderson: The generation I was part of at the CC was just kind of on the tail end of the Replacements thing. We were real Gen-Xers, and we were just a little bit younger than some of those guys. And it kind of felt like a club. Like they were seniors in high school and we were freshman.

In the early '90s, the Uptown landscape began to change. Some of the early corporate chains moved in, beginning the gentrification of the neighborhood.

Anderson: I remember just this, I wouldn't call it nihilism, but there was a lot of just defeatism that kind of permeated through. And this sort of inevitability of "The Man" — whoever he or she was — winning. That's really what the gentrification started to mean to me. It's like: It's not ours. Uptown isn't ours. It belongs to the highest bidder.

On February 18, 1995, Anderson was one of the last people to see former Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson alive. They ran into each other at the CC during a snowstorm, and over a few beers, Anderson convinced Stinson to play with his band, Rex Daisy, at the Fine Line that night. Anderson and his band's guitarist left the bar to pick up their lead singer from the airport, promising to swing back to Uptown to pick up Stinson on the way to the show.

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