Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 6 May '45, Ann Arbor, MI.) Rock singer, songwriter, bandleader. Played Detroit from '61, a local hero who could not make national breakthrough; he formed band the Last Heard '64 and 'Heavy Music' on Cameo-Parkway almost reached the Hot 100 '67 as the label folded. 'Ramblin' Gamblin' Man' '68 made top 20 on Capitol; he made LPs Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Noah, Mongrel, Brand New Morning '69--71, quit to go to college, came back the same year with duo Teegarden and Van Winkle (Skip Knape and Dave Van Winkle) on their third LP On Our Way; they played on his Smokin' O.P.'s '72, first of three on Palladium label (later reissued on Capitol). Seger's road band of this period (Dick Sims, keyboards; Jamie Oldaker, drums; Marcy Levy, vocals) went on to Eric Clapton. Back In '72 '73, Seven '74 did little, though the former, partly made in Muscle Shoals and with J. J. Cale on some tracks, made top 200 LPs and critics loved it, and the latter yielded 'Get Out Of Denver', later covered by Dave Edmunds and Eddie and the Hot Rods, and the blistering 'Need Ya', pointing up a vocal similarity to Rod Stewart at his rockiest. Back on Capitol for Beautiful Loser '75, incl. most of the musicians who'd worked on Seven, soon to be known as the Silver Bullet Band: Chris Campbell, bass; Drew Abbott, guitar; Charlie Allen Martin, drums; Rick Manasa on keyboards (replaced by Robyn Robbins), Alto Reed, sax. Loser had these on up-tempo tracks, Muscle Shoals men on ballads. Two-disc Live Bullet '76, made in Detroit's Cobo Hall, made breakthrough into top 40 LPs, stayed in charts for 140 weeks, eventually selling a million, as have all subsequent albums. Night Moves '76 was top ten LP, title track a typical ballad and top five single, also stressing traditionalism in 'Rock And Roll Never Forgets', first of many songs extolling blue-collar rock: Bruce Springsteen's contemporary breakthrough helped Seger's as they brought working-class rock to the masses. Martin was paralysed in a car crash, replaced by Teegarden. Stranger In Town '78 yielded ballad hit 'Still The Same' (top five) and rockier 'Hollywood Nights' (no. 12); 'We've Got Tonight' (13) became MOR standard, covered by Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers etc.

Against The Wind '80 saw Eagles on backing vocals and critical praise predictably turn to charges of formula-ism as album went to no. 1, title track to no. 5, 'Fire Lake' to no. 6. Grand Funk keyboardist Craig Frost replaced Robbins; second live five-disc set Nine Tonight '81 took title from his contribution to Urban Cowboy soundtrack '80, incl. no. 5 single 'Tryin' To Live My Life Without You'. The Distance '82 saw drop in ballad content, still no. 5 LP with no. 2 single in Rodney Crowell's 'Shame On The Moon'; seasoned session players Waddy Wachtel on guitar, drummer Russ Kunkel took part as did Springsteen keyboardist Roy Bittan, while Grand Funk's Don Brewer joined the Bullet Band on drums. Seger came back after a long break with Like A Rock '86, backing vocals by the Weather Girls on his fifth top five album in a row; for the first time he shared writing chores, with Frost. He was remarkably consistent, success coming as the public caught up to him. He carried on with The Fire Inside '91; his Greatest Hits compilation '94 was his eighth top ten album in a row; It's A Mystery '95 slipped to no. 27, with no hit single.