Bob Seger Biography

6 May 1945, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Seger began his long career in the early 60s as a member of the Decibels. He subsequently joined Doug Brown And The Omens as organist, but was installed as their vocalist and songwriter when such talents surfaced. The group made its recording debut as the Beach Bums, with ‘The Ballad Of The Yellow Beret’, but this pastiche of the contemporaneous Barry Sadler hit, ‘The Ballad Of The Green Beret’, was withdrawn in the face of a threatened lawsuit. The act then became known as Bob Seger And The Last Heard and as such completed several powerful singles, notably ‘East Side Story’ (1966) and ‘Heavy Music’ (1967).

Seger was signed by Capitol Records in 1968 and the singer’s new group, the Bob Seger System, enjoyed a US Top 20 hit that year with ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’. Numerous excellent hard rock releases followed, including the impressive Mongrel album, but the artist was unable to repeat his early success and disbanded the group in 1971. Having spent a period studying for a college degree, Seger returned to music with his own label, Palladium Records, and three unspectacular albums ensued. He garnered considerable acclaim for his 1974 single, ‘Get Out Of Denver’, which has since become a much-covered classic.

Seger only achieved deserved commercial success upon returning to Capitol when Beautiful Loser reached the lower reaches of the US album charts (number 131). Now fronting the Silver Bullet Band - Drew Abbott (guitar), Robyn Robbins (keyboards), Alto Reed (saxophone), Chris Campbell (bass) and Charlie Allen Martin (drums) - Seger reinforced his in-concert popularity with the exciting Live Bullet, which was in turn followed by Night Moves, his first platinum disc. The title track reached the US Top 5 in 1977, a feat ‘Still The Same’ repeated the following year. The latter hit was culled from the triple-platinum album, Stranger In Town, which also included ‘Hollywood Nights’, ‘We’ve Got Tonite’, and ‘Old Time Rock & Roll’. By couching simple sentiments in traditional, R&B-based rock, the set confirmed Seger’s ability to articulate the aspirations of blue-collar America, a feature enhanced by his punishing tour schedule. Against The Wind topped the US album charts for six weeks, while another live set, Nine Tonight, allowed the artist time to recharge creative energies.

Seger recruited Jimmy Iovine and several studio musicians for The Distance, which stalled at number 5 and prompted the departure of guitarist Abbott, the first of several line-up changes in the Silver Bullet Band. Among Seger’s later hit singles were the Rodney Crowell song ‘Shame On The Moon’ (a number 2 hit at the start of 1983), ‘Even Now’, ‘Understanding’ (from the movie Teachers), ‘American Storm’, ‘Like A Rock’, and 1987’s number 1 hit ‘Shakedown’, taken from the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop II. However, while Seger was rightly seen as a major artist in the USA he was unable to appeal to anything more than a cult audience in the rest of the world.

Seger released his first studio album for five years in 1991, The Fire Inside. Co-produced by Don Was, it was a Top 10 hit in the USA, clearly showing his massive following had remained in place. A highly successful greatest hits collection issued in 1994 (with copious sleeve notes from Seger) also demonstrated just what a strong following he retained. It’s A Mystery came after a long gap, presumably buoyed by recent success. It ploughed typical Seger territory with regular riff rockers such as ‘Lock And Load’ alongside acoustic forays such as ‘By The River’. The most interesting track on the album was the title track, a great mantric rocker sounding less like Seger and more like Hüsker Dü. He followed the success of the album with a box-office record-breaking tour of America in 1996. Ticketmaster claimed that the concert in his home town sold 100, 000 tickets in 57 minutes.

Although he remained quiet on the recording front in the late 90s Seger retained his huge live following. In March 2004, he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The disappointing new studio album, Face The Promise, was released at the end of 2006.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.