Who, what, when, where and why did a guy, now going on 70, with a raspy, unmistakable powerhouse tone and unpretentious persona, become the icon of rich, soulful Heartland Rock for the past 5 decades?
Who: Robert Clark Seger
What: Singer/songwriter, acoustic guitar and piano
When: Born May 6, 1945
Where: Lincoln Park, Michigan, USA
Why: because Bob Seger is a master storyteller who captures the honest simplicity of what drives and confuses people’s lives. Listeners identify with his characters that validate the yearning to grow, the searching, being scared, dealing with what you hoped you’d find and what you never wanted, and wanting what you once had.
Seger worked for years to expand his fan base to include other areas outside his home base of Michigan gaining some recognition in the Florida area and pockets of fans elsewhere with ”Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” and “Heavy Music”. When you see Seger perform he has you hooked with his raw intensity, the problem was making his talent available to a wider audience.
In the Detroit area performing and recording in the1960’s as “Bob Seger and The Last Heard” and “Bob Seger System” by the 70’s he had dropped the “System” and continued on with other bands. By 1973 he had put together a group of fellow Detroit musicians - “The Silver Bullet Band”.
Silver Bullet Band Original members:
- Chris Campbell – bass
- Alto Reed – sax and flute
- Rick Manasa – keyboard (replaced by Robyn Robbins, Craig Frost, Bobbye Hall)
- Charlie Allen Martin – drums (after car accident replaced by Dave Teegarden and Don Brewer)
- Drew Abbot – Guitar (replaced by Dawayne Bailey)
They were on target in 1976 with their debut album that was recorded live at Detroit’s famed rock concert venue Cobo Hall, aptly named - “Live Bullet” with the classics “Beautiful Loser”, and “Turn The Page” (which was originally on Seger’s album “Back in ‘72”). “Live Bullet” was a special-priced double album that was only released because work had not finished on the title track to the studio album “Night Moves”. Later that same year, recording with MS-Rhythm Section at Muscle Shoals Studio Alabama, the LP “Night Moves” was ready for release and needless to say these 2 albums won a vast mainstream audience worldwide.
“Night Moves” was inspired by the film American Graffiti and the times of sexual discovery that led to adulthood which made that album a cohesive mirror of people’s lives through Segers offering of timeless testimonies like “Mainstreet”, “Fire Down Below” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”.
The studio album, “Stranger In Town” (1978) continued the momentum, with hits “Still The Same”, “Hollywood Nights”, “We’ve Got Tonight” and “Old Time Rock & Roll” that reflected Segers self-realization of success, money and fame while feeling this luck was going to end.
The next release was “Against The Wind” – definitely proving their success had nothing to do with luck. Years later Seger mentioned, “I think of all the albums I’ve ever done “Against The Wind” (album) is probably the easiest one for me to listen to… it’s probably the most fulfilled I ever was as a songwriter”.
This band never slowed down - touring and recording live plus studio albums from 1976 – 81 with a recording gap to 2006 with the release of “Face the Promise” and the latest in 2014 “Ride Out”.
Live albums: 2
Compilation albums: 5
Guest singles: 2
Guest Appearances: 17
(tracks used in film: Risky Business, Beverly Hill Cop II, Forest Gump etc)
The estimated earnings combined are in excess of 52 million dollars.
Seger elected to take a sabbatical for 10 years to enjoy life with his 3rd wife, Juanita Dorricott and 2 young children Samantha Char and Christopher Cole at their home just outside of Detroit in Orchard Lake Village, Michigan. Bob also became very serious about sailing and won the 2001 & 2002 prestigious Port Huron to Mackinac race in his sailboat “Lightning”.
So, the answer to the original question - Why did a guy, now going on 70, with a raspy, unmistakable powerhouse tone and unpretentious persona, become the icon of rich, soulful Heartland Rock for the past 5 decades, has been briefly explained with facts and figures but the most revealing evidence for lasting success is that “Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band” through the decades, has maintained its integrity and initial commitment to be of, for and because real life demands the basic, complex honesty Seger paints with his words and music. His commanding, blazing rock, signature rasp transitions flawlessly into smooth textured, and lamenting intimate vocals as performed in songs such as “Turn The Page”, and takes every fan beyond listening, to experiencing.
The greatest legacy of “Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band”?
Decades of loyal fans worldwide remembering…who, what, when, where, and why they were part of that magic, willing to share their lives with “Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band”.