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Monday, April 9, 2012

Artist Profile: Bob Seger: From Stationwagons to Jets to Schoolbuses

Bob Seger and his dad
"I always loved music,  my parents said I started singing when I was 4."

 Bob American Icon.

Robert Clark "Bob" Seger was born May 6, 1945 in Dearborn, Michigan and lived in the area until age 6 when his family moved to nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Young Bob Seger
 Seger's father, a medical technician for the Ford Motor Company, played several instruments and Seger was exposed to music from an early age.

  Seger was also exposed to frequent arguments between his parents that disturbed the neighborhood at night. In 1956, when he was 10 years old, his father abandoned the family and moved to California. The remaining family soon lost their comfortable middle-class status and struggled financially.

 "I came out of near poverty to where I am today. I think people can relate to that."

-Bob Seger 

 Seger's first marriage in 1968 lasted for 'one day short of a year'. He had a long term relationship with Jan Dinsdale from 1972 until 1983. In 1987 he married actress Annette Sinclair and they divorced 1 year later. He married Juanita Dorricott in 1993 and they have two children, Samantha  and Cole.

 A roots rocker with a classic raspy, shouting voice, Seger wrote and recorded songs that dealt with blue-collar themes and was an exemplar of heartland rock.

 "it's mysterious. you don't know what inspires you. You like to think you know what inspires you, but in the final analysis, I dont think you really do. Its great to look at a blank sheet of paper and walk up to an instrument and not know what is going to happen. It is the most challenging thing I do."

-Bob Seger

"Bob writes timeless songs that touch everybody. They remember their wedding, their first graduation. Their first baby. The first time they lost their virginity. The songs are phenomenal and timeless"

-Alto Reed.

Seger was listening to James Brown and said that, for him and his friends, Live at the Apollo was their favorite record following its release in 1963. Seger was also widely influenced by the music of The Beatles, once they hit American shores in 1964. In general, he and local musician friends such as future Eagle Glenn Frey bought into the premises of 1960s pop and rock radio, with its hook-driven hits; he later recalled he and Frey thinking at the time,

 "You’re nobody if you can’t get on the radio."

"James Brown was really the first major influence on me. In 1965, he would bring his review to Detroit in Cobo Hall and I would be one of the few white people in the audience...and Motown. What I am trying to say is black music more than white music really, for the most part. Chuck Berry, Little Richard"

-Bob Seger

As a locally successful Detroit-area artist, he performed and recorded as Bob Seger and the Last Heard and Bob Seger System throughout the 1960s. By the early 1970s, he had dropped the "System" from his recordings, and he continued to strive for broader success with other various bands.
 Seger arrived on the Detroit music scene in 1961 fronting a three-piece band called the Decibels. The band included Seger on guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals, Pete Stanger, guitar, and H.B. Hunter on drums. All of the members attended Ann Arbor High. The Decibels recorded an acetate demo of a song called "The Lonely One", at Del Shannon's studio in 1961. As well as being Seger's first original song, "The Lonely One" was Seger's first song to be played on the radio, airing only once on an Ann Arbor radio station.

  Seger met a man named Doug Brown, backed by a band called the Omens. Seger joined Doug Brown & the Omens, who presumably had a bigger following than the Town Criers, his previous band. While Doug Brown was the primary lead vocalist for the group, Seger would take the lead on some songs—covering R&B numbers. It was with this group that Seger first appeared on an officially released recording: the 1965 single "TGIF" backed with "First Girl", credited to Doug Brown and the Omens.

 As Bob Seger and the Last Heard, Seger released his version of the song with Hideout Records in January 1966, and it became his first big Detroit hit. The single (backed with "East Side Sound", an instrumental version of "East Side Story") sold 50,000 copies, mostly in the Detroit area, and led to a contract with Cameo-Parkway Records. 

 Though the name "The Last Heard" originally referred to the collection of Omens and Town Criers who recorded "East Side Story" with Seger, it soon became the name of Seger's permanent band, which consisted of former Town Crier Pep Perrine on drums, Carl Lagassa on guitar, and Dan Honaker on bass. 

Following "East Side Story", the group released four more singles: the James Brown-inspired holiday single "Sock It to Me Santa", the Dylan-esque "Persecution Smith", "Vagrant Winter", and perhaps the most notable, "Heavy Music", released in 1967. "Heavy Music", which sold even more copies than "East Side Story", had potential to break out nationally when Cameo-Parkway suddenly went out of business. The song would stay in Seger's live act for many years to come.

  In the spring of 1968, Bob Seger & the Last Heard signed with major label Capitol Records, turning down Motown Records, who offered more money than Capitol. Seger felt that Capitol was more appropriate for his genre than Motown.

Capitol changed the name of the band to The Bob Seger System. In the transition between labels, guitarist Carl Lagassa left the band and keyboard player Bob Schultz joined. The System's first single with Capitol was the anti-war message song "2 + 2 = ?", which reflected a marked change in Seger's political attitudes from "The Ballad of the Yellow Beret".

 Ramblin' Gamblin' Man is the debut album by Bob Seger System, released in 1969 . The original title was "Tales of Lucy Blue," hence the cover photo. The Title Track on the record "Ramblin Gamblin Man" was also performed on "Live Bullet" 

"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" is a song written and performed by  Seger
(as the Bob Seger System). The song was originally released as a single in February 1968, then as a track on the album of the same name in April 1969. The single fared extremely well, reaching #17 on the national charts.

Noah is the second studio album by  Seger , released in 1969 . Seger was displeased with this album as it was the label's intention to showcase Tom Neme as the voice of the band. Seger contemplated quitting music altogether after this album. It has never been reissued on a legitimate U.S. CD by Capitol and probably never will be as Seger disavows it. It does however contain the classic Seger title song, which was issued as a single.

 The album features the song "Death Row," which was a holdover from the Ramblin' Gamblin' Man sessions.


 "my legacy. I told the truth. As I saw. That I was out front. I didn't sugarcoat things. I held true to what I liked.".

-Bob Seger 

 Mongrel is the third album by Seger released in 1970. 

 Most artists that deliver a second record as shaky as Noah fold on their third album. Not Bob Seger. He reasserted control of the System, consigning Tom Neme to a fanboy's footnote, and returning the group to the piledriving rock that was his trademark. All of this was evident with his third album, the superb Mongrel. Never before, and never since, has Seger rocked as recklessly and viciously as he did here -- after a spell in the wilderness, he's found his voice. He's so assured, he elevates his Ramblin' Gamblin' Man characters Lucy Blue and Chicago Green to mythic status in the pulverizing "Lucifer," perhaps the greatest song on this lean, muscular record. That assurance carries over not just through the ferocious rockers that dominate the album -- "Evil Edna," "Highway Child," "Leanin on My Dream," and "Song to Rufus" all hit harder than latter-day MC5 -- but to quieter moments like "Big River," where he first hits upon the wistful, passionate ballad style later popularized with "Night Moves."

-from All Music


 "Evil Edna"

 "Highway Child"

"Big River" 


 Brand New Morning is an album by Seger, released in 1971  It is an acoustic album.

Mongrel may have been a terrific album, but nobody heard it, just like its predecessor. So Capitol was ready to drop him and wanted a contract-fulfilling album as soon as possible. Seger delivered the low-key, introspective Brand New Morning to get out of the deal. Later he claimed that the album was a collection of demos released somewhat against his will.

The song "Railroad Days" is considered a fan favorite and has received some airplay later in Seger's career on classic rock radio despite the fact that the album released no singles on air at the time the record was released.

While they are okay songs, they don't have the heart and personal feel of his great songs to come 5 or 6 years later. He clearly mailed this one in, and he acknowledges that.

Seger often jokes about the album saying he has his only copy "buried in his backyard."


 Smokin' O.P.'s is an album by  Seger, released in 1972 .. The cover art is a parody of the Lucky Strike cigarette logo. Smokin' O.P.'s refers to Smokin' Other People's Songs, a derivation on the slang phrase "Smoking O.P.'s" meaning to smoke other people's cigarettes exclusively (never purchasing your own ). 

Most of the tracks on this release are covers of songs written by other artists.


Back in '72 is an album  Seger, released in 1973.

The album was recorded partly with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a renowned group of session musicians who had recorded with the likes of J. J. Cale and Aretha Franklin. According to Seger, there was a financial misunderstanding with the musicians: they offered to record him "for $1500 a side", which he took to mean $1500 per album side. When he found out that they meant $1500 per song, he left after recording three songs but resolved to work with them in the future.

The album contains the original studio version of "Turn the Page", a live recording of which would be released on Live Bullet in 1976 and would become a staple of classic rock radio.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album 4.5/5 stars, calling it "not only the finest of [Seger's] early-'70s albums but one of the great lost hard rock albums of its era," and "a testament to great rock & roll, thanks to Seger's phenomenal songwriting and impassioned playing."

 The song "Rosalie" was written in tribute to Rosalie Trombley, the program director of CKLW-AM in Windsor, Ontario, which was one of North America's leading Top 40 radio stations of the 1960s and '70s.


 "I knew I had it when I had Silver Bullet Band. A bunch of guys that all had the same ideas as myself."

   In 1973, Seger put together The Silver Bullet Band, an evolving group of Detroit-area musicians, with whom he became most successful.

 Its original members were guitarist Drew Abbott, drummer and backup-singer Charlie Allen Martin, keyboard-player Rick Mannassa, bass guitarist Chris Campbell, and saxophone player Alto Reed (then known as Tom Cartmell). With this new band sitting in occasionally, Seger released the album Seven, which contained the Detroit-area hard-rock hit "Get Out of Denver". This track was a modest success and charted at #80 nationally.

Seven is the seventh album by  Seger, released in 1974.

 Seven was the first Seger album to feature "The Silver Bullet Band" in which he would steadily rely on for the rest of his career. The album gained notorious recognition and is a fan favorite despite its rarity. The tour for this album was very successful and kicked off with Seger and his newly formed Silver Bullets as the opening act for Kiss. Kiss asked Seger & the band to support them for a few shows. After seeing the band's first set, they offered Seger the rest of the tour, which gained the band much needed recognition.

"when we played (in the early days) we knew we had something. We had what it took to move an audience."

-Bob Seger

 "20 years From Now"

 U.M.C. (Upper Middle Class)


Beautiful Loser is the eighth album by  Seger, released in 1975

The album relied mostly on session musicians from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, but the Silver Bullet Band members were used separately on some songs and together on "Nutbush City Limits," a cover song of the hit by Ike & Tina Turner.



 Travelin Man

 Katmandu is a song written and recorded by Seger for  Beautiful Loser, which became the first of ten consecutive platinum albums for Seger. The song was later featured on his live album Live Bullet. The single  reached number 43 on the US Top 40, becoming Seger's most successful single since "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man".


 On why it took them so long to gain the success they suddenly seemed to have in 1976 when Live Bullet and Night Moves hit big.

"Part of the reason we have been able to do 10 albums and not be superstars is that we have never allowed ourselves to be subsidized by any major record company. We always paid our own bills and went our own way. Instead of flying around and having big road crews we drove."

"I've seen a lot of bands go up fast and down fast because they go in debt to people and people start calling the shots on them and we always wanted to call our own shots. So, I guess it took us a lot longer to do it that way. But, things are starting to happen now."


Night Moves is the ninth studio album by  Seger, and his first with the Silver Bullet Band. It was released in October 1976.. Although the front cover only credits backing by the Silver Bullet Band, four of the nine songs on the album feature backing by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

The album was well received by critics and gave Bob Seger nation-wide success. Three singles were released from the album, with two of them making the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was a little too tall
Could've used a few pounds
Tight pants points hardly reknown
She was a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high
Way up firm and high

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy

Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' to make some front page drive-in news
Workin' on our night moves
In the summertime
In the sweet summertime

We weren't in love, oh no, far from it

We weren't searchin' for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Livin' by the sword
And we'd steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, to the alley or the trusty woods
I used her, she used me
But neither one cared
We were gettin' our share
Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' to lose the awkward teenage blues
Workin' on our night moves
And it was summertime

And oh the wonder

We felt the lightning
And we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

I awoke last night to the sound of thunder

How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves
When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

 Seger finally achieved his commercial breakthrough with his October 1976 album Night Moves. The title song "Night Moves" was a highly evocative, nostalgic, time-spanning tale that was not only critically praised,but became a #4 hit single on the Billboard pop singles chart as well as a heavy album-oriented rock airplay mainstay. . Night Moves was Seger's first top ten album in the Billboard album chart, and as of 2006 was certified at 6 million copies in the United States alone - making it the biggest-selling studio album of his entire career. Furthermore, it activated sales of Seger's recent back catalog, so that Beautiful Loser would eventually sell 2 million and Live Bullet would go on to sell some 5 million copies in the United States. Indeed, Live Bullet stayed on the Billboard charts for 168 weeks and it remains one of the ten best-selling live albums of all time.

 This song, and this album cemented his career as a rock legend and icon. It was a very diverse album..he put all the elements together on this one.


 How he made his name on the live performance of Live Bullet:

"you are out there for the fans. They're spending money, they're coming from 100 or 200 miles away to see you in some is an effort for them. So every night you have got to have that sort of thinking. You know..these people deserve my best. Whatever it takes to do my best. I am responsible for these people coming and spending their money. So you got to live up to them."

 In April 1976, Seger and The Silver Bullet Band released the album Live Bullet, recorded over two nights in Detroit's Cobo Arena in September 1975. It contained Seger's rendition of "Nutbush City Limits" as well as Seger's own classic take on life on the road, "Turn the Page", from Back in '72. It also included his late 1960s successful releases — "Heavy Music" and "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man". Critic Dave Marsh later wrote that "Live Bullet is one of the best live albums ever made ... In spots, particularly during the medley of 'Travelin' Man'/'Beautiful Loser' on side one, Seger sounds like a man with one last shot at the top." An instant best-seller in Detroit, Live Bullet began to get attention in other parts of the country, selling better than Seger's previous albums, getting progressive rock radio and album-oriented rock airplay, and enabling Seger to headline more shows.Yet still, Seger had a popularity imbalance. In June 1976, he was a featured performer at the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit in front of nearly 80,000 fans. The next night, Seger played before fewer than a thousand people in Chicago.

 'Live' Bullet became a staple of FM rock radio in Detroit. Classics such as the live version of "Nutbush City Limits" and the connected song rendition of "Travelin' Man" and "Beautiful Loser" were among the most widely played live tracks on Detroit stations such as WWWW (quad), WRIF, and WABX. Other tracks such as "Let It Rock", "Turn the Page", and "Get Out of Denver" also received wide airplay in Detroit.
Over time, the life-on-the-road tale "Turn the Page" would become the most nationally played song from 'Live' Bullet, and a perennial favorite on album-oriented rock and classic rock stations.

For Detroit fans, however, the entire 'Live' Bullet recording captured a Detroit artist at the height of his energy and creativity, in front of a highly appreciative hometown crowd. 'Live' Bullet also captured the wild and free spirit of rock concerts in the seventies, and has great historic value in that regard. Critic Dave Marsh called it "one of the best live albums ever made."

 We were in the studio,  he (Seger) played a track for me. He said "I hear sax on this". Picture a movie. A black and white movie. The Man With The Golden Arm. It's late at night. It's New York City. There's water on the alley. And off on the distance you hear this plaintiff whale. Who would have known would have become known as one of the most recognizable sax lines on alto sax. Turn The Page.

-Alto Reed.

 "It was nice. Going from station wagons to jets. In a heartbeat"

 "It's great when you can do something you love and people really like it and you just make people really happy".

 "Searching for lyrics you can sing with conviction"

Stranger in Town is the tenth studio album by  Seger and his second with the Silver Bullet Band, released by Capitol Records in May 1978  Like it predecessor, the Silver Bullet Band backed Seger on about half of the songs and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section backed Seger on the other half.
The album became an instant success,  being certified platinum  less than a month after the album's release. The album was eventually certified 6x multi-platinum.

"Till it shines"

"Hollywood Nights"

 His iconic recording of "Old Time Rock and Roll" was named one of the Songs of the Century in 2001

  "Old Time Rock and Roll", a song from George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III that Seger substantially rewrote the lyrics for.

It was not a big pop hit initially, but achieved substantial album track airplay. Moreover, it would later become one of Seger's most recognizable songs following its memorable Tom Cruise-dancing-in-his-underwear use in the 1983 film Risky Business.

"We've got tonight"

  "We've Got Tonight" was a slow ballad that reached #13 on the Hot 100. (The latter became an even bigger hit when country music superstar Kenny Rogers and pop singer Sheena Easton teamed up for a 1983 treatment of it that topped Billboard's Country and Adult Contemporary charts.) 

 Seger also co-wrote the Eagles' #1 hit song "Heartache Tonight" from their 1979 album The Long Run; their collaboration resulted from Seger and Glenn Frey's early days together in Detroit.


Against the Wind is the 11th album by Seger and his third with The Silver Bullet Band. It was released in 1980 . It is Seger's only Number 1 album to date, spending six weeks atop the Billboard 200, The album also earned two Grammy Awards.

It had 3 Top 20 hits, Against The Wind #5, Fire Lake #6, You'll Accompny Me #14.

"You'll Accomp'ny me"


"Fire Lake"

"Her Strut"

"Horizontal Bop"


The Distance is the 12th album by  Seger and his fourth and final with The Silver Bullet Band. It was released in the final week of 1982. and peaked at #5 on Billboard's album chart selling close to two million copies in the United States.
The album's lead single, "Shame on the Moon", was Seger's biggest hit, holding at #2 for four weeks on Billboard's Hot 100.

"Roll Me Away"


 Like a Rock is the 13th studio album by  Seger, released in 1986. The title track is best known for being featured on Chevrolet truck commercials.

 "Fortunate Son" is a live cover of the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, recorded March 31, 1983 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

"American Storm"


 The Fire Inside is the fourteenth studio album by  Seger, released in 1991.

"The Real Love"


 It's a Mystery is the fifteenth studio album by Seger, released in 1995.


"16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six"

After 1996,  Seger gave up making record and touring for ten years. He wanted to raise his young kids.  His days were spent writing, and taking his kids to and from the bus stop for school. 
He truly had gone from Station wagons to jets to school buses.
 Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

With a career spanning five decades, Seger continues to perform and record today.


Face the Promise is the sixteenth studio album by Seger. This album was originally planned to be released in 2004 and then delayed to 2005. It was finally officially released on September 12, 2006. It took Bob Seger 6 years of work to finish on "Face The Promise."


One final song, from the movie Beverly Hills Cop 2 .

1 comment:

  1. Seger is without a doubt the best performer I've ever seen in concert, and there is no other band better than Silver Bullet. I'm about a year older then Seger and have all of the albums.


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