Rock Through the Ages: Bob Seger 1945-


“I’m still runnin’ against the wind Well I’m older now and still Against the wind” -Bob Seger

Bob Seger, singer and songwriter from Detroit Michigan, a beautiful loserRobert Clark "Bob" Seger is an American rock musician who achieved his greatest success in the 1970s and 1980s and whose music continues to be influential today.  Whether gigging in long, tireless obscurity in the journeyman bars and clubs of his native Michigan or gliding through his late-'70s success, Bob Seger remained in spirit a working-class hero. Gruff-voiced and dramatic, he's a premier rock & roll singer, and his best songs render with dignity and empathy the hard victories and close defeats of ordinary lives. Combining the driving charge of Ryder's Detroit Wheels with Stonesy garage rock and devotion to hard-edged soul and R&B, he crafted a distinctively American sound. While he never attained the critical respect of his contemporary Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger did develop a dedicated following through constant touring with his Silver Bullet Band.

Bob Seger was born at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and lived in the area until age 6 when his family moved to nearby Ann Arbor, Michigan. When Seger was 10 years old, his father left the family and moved to California. Seger attended Tappan Middle School and Ann Arbor High School in Ann Arbor and graduated in 1963. He ran track and field in high school, and was considered one of the best runners in Michigan. Bob Seger has stated that "Little Richard was the first one that really got to me. Little Richard and, of course, Elvis Presley." Growing up, Seger also listened to James Brown and has said that for him and his friends, Live at the Apollo was their favorite record. "Come Go With Me" by The Del Vikings was the first record he bought. Seger started performing in early '60s Detroit-area bands such as the Decibels and the Town Criers. Seger became the leader of first, Bob Seger and the Last Heard, and then, the Bob Seger System. By 1965, he'd struck up a business relationship with manager Eddie "Punch" Andrews that continues even today; with Andrews at the helm, Bob Seger scored a regional hit single with "East Side Story" that was soon picked up by the Cameo-Parkway label. Following a series of Cameo-Parkway singles such as "Persecution Smith" and "Heavy Music," both significant Michigan-area hits, Seger signed to Capitol Records, and by 1969, with his band the Bob Seger System, had a top 20 hit with "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man." The group's follow-up, Noah, stiffed and Seger decided to quit the music business at the end of 1969 to attend college.
 

Bob Seger, Turn the page on the road againBob Seger maintained his regional appeal in Detroit, and had built a modest following in Florida (necessitating many drives back and forth), but to the general music world was regarded as a one-hit wonder. In 1974 Bob Seger formed the Silver Bullet Band. 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. With this new band sitting in occasionally, Bob Seger released the album Seven, which contained the Detroit-area hard-rock hit "Get Out of Denver". Bob Seger moved back to Capitol Records for 1975's Beautiful Loser. Beautiful Loser's stately title track and its punchy cover of Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" begin Seger's mature period. This album is where Bob Seger transformed himself from goodhearted Midwestern rocker to respected singer-songwriter of considerable depth. And by 1976, with the growing presence of saxophonist Tom "Alto Reed" Cartmell in the Silver Bullet Band, more than a few critics were starting to draw parallels between Seger and one of the hottest new artists of the decade: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Bob Seger supported Beautiful Loser with an extensive tour with the Silver Bullet Band, and while it didn't make the album a hit, it provided a widespread grassroots following across the country. The touring paid off in 1976, when Live Bullet, a double album recorded in Detroit, became a hit, spending over three years on the U.S. charts and going gold; the album would eventually go quadruple platinum. The groundswell behind Live Bullet sent Seger's next studio album, Night Moves (1976), into the Top Ten early in 1977. Night Moves became a blockbuster, generating the hit singles "Night Moves," "Mainstreet," and "Rock & Roll Never Forgets." Stranger in Town, released in the summer 1978, was just as successful, featuring the hits "Still the Same," "Hollywood Nights," "We've Got Tonite," and "Old Time Rock & Roll." Stranger in Town confirming Bob Seger's status as one America's most popular rockers. Seger's next album, 1980's Against the Wind, became his first number one album and all of its big hits -- "Fire Lake," "Against the Wind," "You'll Accomp'ny Me" -- were ballads. The live album Nine Tonight continued his multi-platinum success in 1981, selling three million copies and peaking at number three.

At this point in his career, Bob Seger began taking longer and longer to make albums. Platinum-seller The Distance emerged in 1983, Like A Rock in 1986, and--after nearly five-and-a-half years, The Fire Inside was released in 1991. Still, for most of the '80s, Seger was becoming something of an institutional figure in American pop. Tom Cruise captivated many with his underwear-only air-guitar performance of Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll" in 1983's Risky Business, while the singer's "Like A Rock" was later adopted for use, with his full blessing, in, appropriately, car commercials. Additionally, Seger closed out the decade with the first No. 1 single of his career, 1987's "Shakedown" from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II. Bob Seger's next record was 1991's The Fire Inside, at a time when glam metal, grunge and alternative rock were all taking the forefront. His new music found little visibility on radio or elsewhere. The same was true of 1995's It's a Mystery, although the album was certified gold. In between, however, his Greatest Hits compilation was a major success.

Bob Seger went back on the road again for a 1996 tour, which was successful and sold the fourth-largest number of tickets of any North American tour that year. Seger took a sabbatical from the music business for about ten years to spend time with his wife and two young children. In 2001 and 2002, Bob Seger won the prestigious Port Huron-to-Mackinac race aboard his 52 foot sailboat Lightning. He subsequently sold the boat. Bob Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 2004. Seger's first new album in 11 years, titled Face the Promise, was released in 2006. Bob Seger lives mainly at his home in Orchard Lake Village, Michigan a suburb of Detroit. Bob Seger frequents many local events including West Bloomfield High School football games to watch his son who is in the nationally-ranked marching band. Bob Seger also owns a vacation house approximately a mile north of Good Hart, Michigan, on the famed route M-119.
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Bob Seger
Musician Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
"Like a Rock"  "The Fire Inside" Night Moves" "Turn the Page"