Bob Seger showed amazing perseverance. He had his first top-twenty hit in early 1969 with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” (#17) under the name the Bob Seger System. It would be eight years (and 9 albums) until his next hit single, “Night Moves” (#4) in 1977. Many music careers don’t even last eight years.
Actually, it was the year before, 1976, when Bob Seger made a great decision. He and his backing group, The Silver Bullet Band, hadn’t been capturing their live rocking sound in the studio, so they released a 2-record concert album, Live Bullet. It’s one of the best live Rock albums of all time. In front of his hometown fans in Detroit, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band rocked “Travelin’ Man”, “Beautiful Loser”, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”, “Katmandu”, and the soulful road song “Turn The Page”.
That album got Seger a lot of FM airplay, but it was the one-two punch of also releasing an excellent studio album, Night Moves, later that same year (1976) that brought Bob Seger to national attention.
Night Moves has the hits “Mainstreet” and the title track, plus album cuts that got played like singles…”Rock & Roll Never Forgets” and “The Fire Down Below”.
The songs from those two 1976 albums kept Bob Seger on radio stations throughout 1977, and the public was primed for Bob Seger’s next album, 1978’s Stranger In Town.
If you’re familiar with Stranger In Town, you know it’s one of the rare albums that’s good all the way through. It has four hit singles “Still The Same” (#4), “Hollywood Nights” (#12), “We’ve Got Tonite” (#13), and “Old Time Rock & Roll” (#28). That last one became popular again later, when it was featured in the 1983 Tom Cruise movie “Risky Business”. Stranger In Town went platinum almost immediately, went on to go 6x platinum in the U.S., and broke Seger internationally.
Bob Seger then had a #1 album, Against The Wind in 1980. It topped the Billboard album chart for six weeks, and had three hit singles, “Fire Lake” (#6), “Against The Wind” (#5), and “You’ll Accompany Me” (#14). It was another huge seller, with over 5-million copies sold in the U.S.
Bob Seger continued his success with Top-10 albums from 1982 to 2014, including The Distance (#5), Like A Rock (#3), The Fire Inside (#7), Face The Promise (#4), and Ride Out (#3). That means Bob Seger has had recordings on the charts in six straight decades!
Even with all those decades in the music business, Bob Seger made one miscalculation…he was late to music streaming. He held out from having his music for sale online, such as on iTunes, and having it on the various music streaming services, like Spotify or Pandora. He missed out on a lot of digital sales, and his rightful place in Classic Rock type formats and playlists.
Bob Seger started correcting that with the 2011 release of Ultimate Hits: Rock & Roll Never Forgets. It’s basically a two-disc length collection of his career, and is a steal at $12.99 for 26 songs on iTunes. You may also want to cherry pick some more of his songs from other albums.
His latest album is I Knew You When. It includes a song for his friend, the late Glenn Frey, simply called “Glenn Song”.
Bob and Glenn were both from Detroit, and were good friends. Glenn played guitar and sang backup on Seger’s first hit “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”, and then performed (like most of the other Eagles) on various Bob Seger albums.
We watched the television broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors for the Eagles in December of 2016. Of course this was after the death of Glenn Frey (January, 2016). The band Kings Of Leon performed a faithful rendition of “Take It Easy”, and I thought they had done a pretty good job. But then, Bob Seger took the stage to perform “Heartache Tonight”, a song he co-wrote with Glenn Frey, Don Henley & J.D. Souther. Man did he take everyone to school on how to sing Rock & Roll! He didn’t overdo it, or sing too hard, he sang it with just the right amount of emotion and grit. It was satisfying to read articles after the show that talked about how amazingly Bob Seger had performed a song originally sung by his friend, Glenn.
As you can see from the photos, Bob Seger has gone from a young long-haired rock star, to a silver-haired rock star. He’s 72 now…and never forgets how to Rock & Roll.