Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bob Seger, Moderately Successful Roots Rocker

Bob Seger was never a superstar of the rock and roll genre, yet he's been around since 1961. He began his career in Detroit as a member of a local band called the Decibels. Until he formed the first of his own bands in 1966, he had spent time in a couple of other local Michigan bands that nobody outside of Michigan probably ever heard of. In '66 he formed a group called Bob Seger and the Last Heard, and still couldn't find a record label willing to promote him other than on a local basis.

He has what is considered by some to have the classic raspy voice of a "roots rocker". Early influences include Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Van Morrison. He says that Van Morrison has influenced an entire clique of male vocalists who include the likes of John Fogarty and Bruce Springsteen. He may be right, however the success of that clique of rockers seemed to elude him. By 1967 he had formed another band called the Bob Seger System. They had one successful local song called "Heavy Music" which is a classic Seger tune and stayed in his live act throughout much of his career. His first nationally charted hit which peaked on the Billboard chart at number 17 was "Ramblin Gamblin Man". He didn't seem to be able to repeat the success of that song and was considered by some to be a "one hit wonder".

In 1974 he again changed his band. This change brought Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band their second break out tune, which just missed the top 40, peaking at number 43. He showed he had the potential to be something other than a one hit wonder, however, it would be two more years before he became truly popular outside of Detroit.

In 1976 he released his album "Night Moves". The title song became a number 4 hit for him and had the effect of reawakening interest in his back catalogue of music. Suddenly, Bob Seger was an "overnight success". Still, only a moderate success, not a big superstar success. Songs like "Night Moves", "Turn The Page", "Like A Rock", "Old Time Rock And Roll" "Against The Wind" and "Shakedown" all followed. When it was released in 1979, "Old Time Rock and Roll" was not a successfull hit. It took a movie, Tom Cruise and some underwear for the rest of us to catch on to what a great song it really was.

In 1995 he decided to take a sabbatical to spend more time with his wife and young children. He became a Dad late in life and decided he didn't want to miss anything. During that time he drove his auto off the Trans Canadian Highway earning himself a driving while impaired charge. He won the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

He ended his sabbatical on September 12, 2006 by releasing his first new album in 11 years, "Face The Promise". It sold over 400,000 copies in the first 45 days. Proving that Bob Seger, the moderately successful, roots rocker with the raspy shouting voice still had it.

Bob Seger and "Wreck This Heart" from the album "Face The Promise"

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