The Seger File
An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger
This page last updated October 2006
Written and edited by Scott Sparling

The Full Contents
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The 2011 Tour Page

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2010 Updates
2009 Updates
2008 Updates
2007 Updates (Jan -July)
2006 Updates (Jan-Sept)
2006 Updates (Oct-Dec.)
2005 Updates
2004 Updates
2003 Updates (July-Dec)
2003 Updates (Jan-June)
2002 Updates
2001 Updates
1998-2000 Updates
Nine Years Online
The Seger File's Birthday Party
Unreleased Tracks
Vault V
10 more unreleased tracks
Vault 4
16 more unreleased tracks
Forward Into the Vault --
26 more unreleased tracks
Return to the Vault -- 18 More Unreleased Tracks
The Vault --31 Unreleased Tracks
Recorded but Unreleased --Unreleased Seger from A-Z
Photos 1Photos 2
Photos 3Photos 4
Hall of Fame Photos
Settle Annex
A collection of great Seger photos
Dylan's "Denver"
The Albums
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Brand New Morning
Smokin' O.P.'s
Back in '72
Beautiful Loser
Live Bullet
Night Moves
Stranger in Town
Against the Wind
Nine Tonight
The Distance
Like A Rock
The Fire Inside
Bob Seger's Greatest Hits
It's A Mystery
Greatest Hits 2
Face the Promise
Other Albums
The Promised Live Album
The Promised Studio Album
Seger on the Edge
The Bob Seger Collection --(Australian Greatest Hits)
Seger Classics
A Very Special Christmas,1987
Other Album Appearances
The Seger Tribute Album
Sing Your Own Seger
Perfect Albums?
Selected Singles
Check the Label
Who Picks the Singles?
Early Singles
The Lonely One
TGIF/First Girl
Ballad of the Yellow Beret
East Side Story
Persecution Smith
Sock It To Me, Santa
Vagrant Winter/Very Few
Heavy Music
2+2=?/Death Row
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Looking Back
If I Were A Carpenter
Bombs Away
Chances Are
My Take on Chances Are
Reaching Number One
Other Seger Tracks
Released on Singles, But Not on Albums
Covered by Others
Written By Seger, Recorded by Others
Night Moves (SNL)
Making Thunderbirds
Old Time Rock and Roll
American Storm
Like a Rock
Real Love
Fire Inside
Night Moves (New)
Turn the Page
It's A Mystery
Chances Are
Ten for Two
The Cobo Hall Tapes
The Palace Tapes
Influences/Other Bands
TV Appearances
Like a Truck
Who Does the Song Belong To?
Ancient History Dept.
How Seger Sees Rock/Truck
Singer or Salesman?
Gatsby, Seger and Victory
The Mystery Man
How the Song Became An Ad
Good Song, Great Ad?
Bad Press, Bad Precedent
Through the Lean Years
Bob's View
Insults and Dead Horses
Fix Or Repair Daily
The Early Years
Early Days
Motor City's Burning
Places He Played
More Dues-Paying Years
Career, Misc.
Lead Singer Vs. Guitar Player
The Slow Road to Success
The Requisites of Greatness
Theories: Why It Took So Long
"You Are Now Leaving Seger Territory"
Breaking Out
What Is Success?
Early Bands
The Decibels
The Town Criers
The Omens
Democracy Rocks
Later Bands
Bob Seger and the Last Heard
The Bob Seger System
Julia/My Band/Borneo Band
Muscle Shoals band
The Silver Bullet Band
Back-up Systems
Shaun Murphy
Karen Newman
Related Bands
Detroit All-Stars
Alto Reed
Blue Highway (Drew Abbott)
Bio, Part 1
Detroit? Ann Arbor?
We Even Sang the Parts the Instruments Were Playing
A Father Leaves
Fire and the Memory of Love
All the Wild, Wild Good Times
Interests and Hobbies
Predicting the Future, Then and Now
Bio, Part 2
On Growing Older
The Seger Work Ethic
You Can't Miss That Driving Rain
Friends and Family
Let's Dig Up Something Really Nasty
I'm Gonna Tell My Tale, C'mon
Of Caves and Barbed Wire
Early Tours and Shows
The Oakland Mall
The Primo, R&R Farm, Suds Factory and Chances Are
The Agora
On the Road
Jackson County Fair
Pontiac, the Michigan Jam and Other Victories
Seger in the Arena
The 1983 Tour
The 1986-87 Tour
The Last Tour?
They'll Never Be in The Arena, But They Get to Write the Reviews
San Francisco
New York
Los Angeles
Vancouver (Canada)
The 1996 Tour
The Set List Discussed
The Set List Presented
The Set List Analyzed
Bringing the Family
Tour Notes
Thirsty for Seger
A Review of the Reviews
Palace of Auburn Hills
The 2006-07 Tour Pages
Readin' O.P.'s
A compilation of e-mail messages. Some favorite are:
-- Hope to see you tonight
-- Motor City Rock
-- The FargoDome
-- The 7-Eleven and the Winter Olympics
-- He gave me a strange look
-- Now that we're older
Brand New Email
More great letters.
-- Seger, Sinatra, Cobain
-- My Dad, Bob and Charlie Martin
-- I work for General Motors
-- Seger and Mohammad Ali
-- The last thing I hear from Bob Seger
-- Road trip to Ann Arbor
-- I never spoke to Bob, but he always spoke to me
Brand New Email Pt. II
-- Bob at the Roseland Inn
-- Seger interview
-- Backstage with a bad pass
-- Put the car in park
-- Starry August nights
-- Cool me down
-- The bridge from Motown
-- The Seger-starved masses plead for tour news
-- The Kiss File?
Seger Stories and Misc. Email
--The best thing you could say
--Blue and Julia  
--Rockin' with Fidel  
--Early days of baseball and Bob
--Follow your heart  
--Waving with the lighter
Email '05
--About Drew Abbott
--On 2+2
--On "The Lonely One"
--About Tom Neme
--About Charlie Martin
--The Toledo Jam
--About Pep Perrine
--About Jim Bruzzese
--Early days
--Early songs
Seger Inks SimTour Deal, Gets Ready to Rock
Capitol Releases "Dee-Pah!
The Seger Cam is back online
The Michigan Jam 2
The Seger versus. SpringsteenComplexo-Meter
The Medicated Top 20
Reese: Money for Music
Get Back to Work
A guide to surfing The Seger File at work.
The Primo Photo
The Rolling Stone Letter
The Imaginary Interview
Why the Seger File Is Here -- Getting Over Bob Seger


Early Shows

Mike Parshall, who owns New Moon Records and Tapes in Mount Pleasant, was Seger's road manager until 1969. (Thomas Weschler took over as road manager in the spring of '69.)

Parshall was working for Punch when Doug Brown introduced Punch and Seger..while Seger was playing at a place called the Red Carpet. Teresa Fowler, January 1996, Traverse City Record-Eagle. "TC man remembers Seger's early days."

Parshall: "He'd be big in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and then in Arizona they'd never heard of him...Some concert promoters who had only heard Seger's growly yowl on demo tapes were surprised when a white guy showed up." Teresa Fowler, January 1996, Traverse City Record-Eagle. "TC man remembers Seger's early days."

Seger played 20 times or more at the Tanz House in Acme. Seger sold out 4,150 seats at the Glacier Dome -- a one time ice-skating rink on South Cass -- on July 24, 1976 just days after playing the Pontiac Silverdome. Seger played in Traverse City a few days later. Parshall said the Traverse City show was better than the Silverdome show. Teresa Fowler, January 1996, Traverse City Record-Eagle. "TC man remembers Seger's early days."

In the early days "we didn't play bars -- there was no booze, just cokes, teenagers and a couple dollars admission. There were probably 30 or 40 of these joints around the state, places like the Mt. Holly Ski Lodge, The Riviera, clubs in Saginaw and Caseville, and we played them all. No one ever got paid more than a couple hundred bucks." Patrick Goldstein, Rolling Stone, July 29, 1976

The Oakland Mall

Seger: "I'll never forget this gig we did at Oakland Mall. We'd been making records for about three years and had about seven Top Ten singles, and we went out and did about half an hour at this shopping mall in front of 20,000, the biggest crowd we'd ever played for. The Rationals were there, Ted Nugent was there, but we closed the show. We did all our hit songs, that's all we did. Scott Morgan [of the Rationals] came up to me and said, 'I can't believe it.' And Glenn Frey said the same thing. 'You just played hit after hit. I can't believe it.' This is 1968, right?" Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone, June 16, 1978.

The legendary Oakland Mall concert must have been an amazing scene. People of my generation talk about 'being at Woodstock' as kind of the end-all be-all of concerts -- but I what I would give to have stood with the crowd that day in Oakland.

Longtime Seger fan Rob Maisch adds this info about the concert:

"The guy who gave me my first job in the Shopping Center Industry was the Marketing Director of Oakland Mall's Grand Opening. His name was Bob Jones and knowing of my interest in Bob Seger, he told me the story of how he had included that parking lot concert as a part of Oakland Mall's Grand Opening Events ...and that it almost cost him his job!   

As I recall, he had figured the concert would be a sure-fire way to generate enormous Grand-Opening traffic and free publicity for the mall. He especially wanted to make a huge splash against existing competitor Northland Mall and more specifically his semi-friend/arch-rival Stan Eichelbaum who was then acting as Northland's Marketing Director. 

What he hadn't reckoned on, he told me in retrospect, was that the concert almost totally negated ANY "regular shoppers" from visiting the Mall or shopping in the brand new stores because of the wall-to-wall cars coming off of the 14 Mile Road Exit from I-75 in both directions, as well as the major traffic snarls throughout the local streets surrounding the mall trying to get into the mall for the concert! 

Concert-goers had sucked up ALL of the available parking spaces in the Mall's parking lot and numerous spaces had already been surrendered to accommodate staging and the concert area in front of Hudsons Department Store!   

The only retail activity this afforded to the mall during that Grand Opening Day was kids running in and out for Cokes and snacks from the fast food vendors and long lines forming at the mall's small community restrooms! 

Needless to say, the Mall merchants who had spent months building, decorating, stocking and getting their stores ready for the "magic day" of Grand Opening were left with no REAL customers to speak of and ample time to organize a lynch mob to go looking for Mr. Jones!

He laughed about it from the distance of about five years in his rearview mirror, but said he caught holy hell from just about everybody from the Detroit news media, to Troy and the surrounding suburbs police, due to the horrible driving and parking conditions it created in the area that day.   

Bob passed away about a dozen years ago, a true pioneer in the shopping center marketing field and there still is a monthly industry newsletter that bears his name. I have many fond memories of him as a friend and as a mentor in my earliest days in that business.  He did teach me that malls and rock & roll never, EVER mix!!! Not even when it's Rock & Roll of the magnitude of Bob Seger's! Thought you'd enjoy this ancillary tale of that long ago concert.

Best Regards,  

Rob Maisch"   

Bill Cook, another longtime Seger fan, was lucky enough to be in the crowd that day. And he also had the great fortune of sharing the experience with one of his closest friends. He e-mailed me to say that reading about Seger "reminded me of my youth and the return to musical roots through friendship."

He titled his e-mail The Seger Circle. I love his story, because it illustrates so well how Seger's music is a uniting force -- something that brings friends together, again and again. Here it is:

"The start of the circle...

Back in '68, my best friend Bill Johnson and I went to the Oakland Mall in Troy, Michigan to see a rock and roll show. This had been promoted for weeks. We were going to see the Rationals, The Amboy Dukes and The Bob Seger System.

This was going to be our first chance to hear the live music which had been dominating the Detroit airwaves. I couldn't wait to hear Journey To The Center Of The Mind and Seger's string of hits...East Side Story, Persecution Smith, Heavy Music and Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.

When we approached the mall from I-75, the crowd was overwhelming. The entire Southwest corner of the mall parking area was jammed with people. The parking lots, streets and every conceivable parking spot was taken. We took advantage of an I-75 ramp and parked our car on the shoulder and jumped out.

What a scene! We sat on the side of the elevated ramp looking down at the stage in front of Hudson's department store and thousands (later reported to be 20,000) of people digging Michigan rock and roll. This was an incredible turnout to see "local" rock acts. Maybe we knew something the rest of the world would later know.

The show went on all afternoon. I wish I could remember all of the bands. We kept waiting for Seger.

At one point, my buddy, who was dressed in the current fashion of the times -- shirt, jeans and barefoot -- stepped on a tin can and cut his foot really bad. It was decision time. Should we get out of there and head home to treat the cut? He says 'no way' and wraps his foot in a handkerchief. We wanted to see Seger.

Needless to say, about an hour later, Bob took the stage as the closing act that afternoon. To this day, when I drive past that mall (twice daily), I can still see that parking lot full of people jumping to their feet at the first notes/drums of Heavy Music and Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. Bob blew 'em away.

Completing the circle...

In 1995, I relocated from Philadelphia back to my hometown of Detroit. Can you imagine the adrenaline rush when I learned that Bob was going to perform in the spring of 1996 at the Palace of Auburn Hills (two and a half miles from my home in Rochester Hills)?

Since '68, I had seen Bob in bars with less than 100 people (Milwaukee '73) and in arenas during the 80's with 15,000 or more. Knowing that it had been 9 years since Bob performed in Michigan, I knew it would be a tough ticket. The first show sold out in 11 minutes and they kept adding dates.

Little did I know that they would sell a week's worth of shows. The ticket sales story just added to Seger legend -- 100,000 seats were sold in less than an hour. Fortunately, I had an excellent ticket connection (excellent seats/face value) for the opening night show. I should add that I would have gone every night, but was not willing to pay $200 and up for good seats.

We ended up with 12 tickets and I put together a 6 hour pre-concert party at my house. I know you can guess who bought 2 airline tickets and flew back "home" from Chicago, with his wife, to see the show? Of course, it was my best friend Bill Johnson from the Oakland Mall gig.

When Bob took the stage, I swear it was louder than when the Pistons were winning championships. We were on our feet (with shoes on) singing all night.What a show! Just like in '68, Bob blew us away. The only "things" missing that night were Heavy Music and Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.

Maybe someday...."

Bill Cook
Rochester Hills, Michigan


A classic story..the detail of the cut foot captures it all. And it reminds me of my close friend Jesse's experience, the first time he tried to hear Seger. He went with a woman he really wanted to get to know...but as sometime happens, he said something wrong, and then she wanted to leave before Bob even took the stage. They were miles from home, but she said she'd hitchhike home. At that point, as Bill says, it was Decision Time for Jesse: stay with the woman -- or stay for Seger?...well, maybe he'll tell that story someday.


"I joined a band called the Town Criers and we played outside of Ann Arbor, in these large clubs and bars in Pontiac and Jackson. One of 'em, the Roseland Inn in Jackson, had strippers -- quite a treat. Believe me, it was the last stop for any had this big snake in her act and another had a horse. My favorite wore a half-ape half-female costume and she did her act under a black light. They're turn the house lights off and it'd look like a gorilla was raping her onstage! While we played 'Caravan'!" Timothy White, November 1977, Crawdaddy. "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Rocker"

On the Road

Seger gets low billing at the Black Magic & Rock 'n Roll Show. His name is at the bottom left...below Teegarden and VanWinkle and many others.


The Primo Showbar, The Rock and Roll Farm, The Suds Factory and The Chances Are

For me, these are the places where die was cast, where the bond was formed. They are all Ann Arbor- and Ypsilanti-area bars.

The Primo Showbar wasn't the first place I heard Seger, but it was the place I heard him most, in the early days, and it was by far the best. For one thing, it was low-key -- no stage at all, just some risers near the back. If you got there a bit early, you could get a table ten feet away, in a crowd of 250 or so, and just let the music and the crowd noise and the beer pour down. This was in the mid '70s, around the time of Back In '72. The Silver Bullet Band was newly formed and hot, hot, hot. Seger was playing a set list that included cuts from '72 as well as most of the songs that would end up on Seven. He was playing "Get Out of Denver" live to a roaring Ann Arbor bar crowd, and there was basically no stage, just little 2-foot risers. He'd play two or three sets each night, with no opening act, and the last set always ended with "Let It Rock." Essentially, it was Live Bullet in a bar three nights a week.

Once, we snuck a tape recorder in, but the batteries failed.

Another night, we discussed walking down to the Primo to see Seger, and decided not to. (Oh, the missed chances. We were young, see...and we thought we were living in a garden where the fruit would always hang low for the picking...and there would always be time to pick more. We didn't think we would ever not be young. We had absolutely no concept of time, none at all.)

Usually, we'd see Punch, some of the roadies, and their various women at a nearby table. It was here at the Primo that Jesse conducted his men's room interview with Punch.

Several weeks prior to this particular night, Jesse had written Punch about East Side Story, hoping possibly to buy a copy through the mail. Back then, it was impossible to find. Jesse got no reply to his letter, but when he saw Punch in the men's room, between sets, he asked about it. I'm not sure exactly what Jesse said -- you might remember me, I sent you a letter a while ago about East Side Story -- but I know exactly what Punch replied. "Burkit? Are you Burkit? I think you are!" (Jesse's last name is Burkhardt, not Burkit...but to this day T.L. and I still drag the line out at opportune times. Are you Burkit? I think you are!)

As for the record, Punch said he wasn't sure he had a copy of East Side Story, but he'd try to find us one. It never happened.

The Primo is also where, one night between sets, I gave Seger a 9 x 12 envelope with a photo I had taken...a close-up of Seger at the electric keyboard, taken at the Primo a few months earlier. I recall that particular concert well, because by then I had moved from Ann Arbor to Yellow Springs, Ohio, five hour's drive to the south. I was back at college, I had just met the woman who sixteen years later would become my wife, and I had this picture I wanted to give Seger. So I made the five hour drive in my '61 Valiant, singing "Do ya, do ya wanna rock!" all the way, and gave Seger the envelope, which he carried away with him. A few months later, it turned up as the back cover of Seven.

The Primo is gone now. For the record, it was on Ashley between Washington and Liberty, but for the past decade or so, it's appeared to be abandoned, though there's a unchanging sign in the otherwise empty window that reads Hi-Fi Studio. For me, the memory of the Primo is best recaptured at another bar, 200 miles to the north: the Union Street in Traverse City. Walk in to the Union Street at any time of day and you're greeted by a friendly bartender, good beer, and a terrific line-up of rock posters. They were in the basement of Union Street when Mike, the current owner, bought the place. Go all the way to the back, and there's the Primo Showbar poster, complete with a mustachioed, Crumb-like hipster. The crown of his skull has kind of exploded off his head, exposing his brain, and around him is the slogan: Dis Place Is Smokin'. Unexplainably, there's a cactus in the background. The incongruity, suffice it to say, was never an issue at the time. We were young, and we were smokin'.

The Rock and Roll Farm and the Suds Factory were great places also. I remember Seger belting out an unforgettable version of J. J. Cale's "Bringing It Back from Mexico" at the Suds Factory, and I remember Jesse banging his beer mug on the table so loud that nearby longhairs complained. The Rock and Roll Farm was a smaller place, as I recall, and was where we stole the Back In 72 posters from the wall.

Chances Are, by all reports, was the best of all in terms of space and set-up and so on. I don't know, because I was never inside Chances Are. It opened after I had moved down to Yellow Springs for college.

After hearing Jesse rave about it, I decided to drive up -- I was making that 10-hour round trip a lot those days -- and we agreed to meet at the Chances Are to hear Seger. Jesse promised to get me a ticket. I reminded him that I was driving an older car...and, further, I was bringing a woman who was less than enthusiastic...and together these factors indicated the possibility of a late arrival. But late or not, I would be there I said, so hang on to my ticket.

And indeed, I was late. The reliable slant-six ran fine; the woman, on the other hand, said she felt ill and had to be dropped off at my parents' house, necessitating a forty mile detour. For reasons unrelated to this, we later broke up.

So I showed up at a sold out Chances Are ten minutes before show time...only to find that Jesse had sold my ticket. No amount of talking could get me past the bouncer. It was September or October, and the weather was cold, but I heard the muted, muffled concert from the alley beside the bar -- along with several others who couldn't get in. Thus did Chances Are become The Concert I Didn't See, Part I. And Jesse, despite this, remained and remains a close friend.

There's an odd coda to the story: Twenty-three years later, I was once again in Ann Arbor for an evening, seeking Seger. This time I was hoping I might find a rare recording at Schoolkids Records. The intervening twenty-three years had brought their full load of changes...I was a father now, and living in Oregon, and I had flown back to Michigan on short notice to spend two weeks with my mom in a stroke rehab unit. I spent the days tagging along with the physical and speech therapists, providing company to my mom and helping with her recovery in what ways I could.

One night, after she went to sleep, I left the hospital and headed off toward Ann Arbor and our old stomping grounds. I drove past the apartment where Jesse, T.L. and I lived; I walked past the Primo, which for years has been an electronics repair shop. Since I was nearby, I decided to check out Schoolkids Records, one of the country's best record stores. They had a good selection of Seger, as I expected, but nothing too unusual.

Afterwards, ready for dinner, or at least a drink, I walked down the block and came to a bar advertising Disco Night. I had no interest in disco, but since it was barely six, I went in for a drink.

The place was deceptively big; inside there was a large dance floor with a mirrored disco ball, and two large areas, upstairs and downstairs, for drinking. This spaciousness was occupied by me, the young, hip female bartenders, and two college kids in retro disco garb. I was embarrassed to be there. The mirrored ball ran streaks of light over everything; disco blasted across the empty tables and vacant dance floor. My bad luck to show up on a Wednesday; only three nights earlier the same bar had hosted some type of S/M fetish event, according to the bartender, and apparently on weekends they had real rock and roll. I had a beer anyway and wondered around drinking it.

Upstairs, I came to a wall-size collage covered with plexiglass, composed of artifacts of Ann Arbor's hippie days. I searched and found a few old Seger posters, and then, to my amusement, noticed that one was advertising a show at the old defunct Chances Are -- the supposed great bar where I'd never managed to get past the bouncer. The next thing I noticed was that all the posters were from the same place, and as I read the address on the posters, it slowly dawned on me that I was finally standing inside the Chances Are.

This bar, this empty dance floor, was where it had all happened, way back when. As the disco music played, as my mother slept in her hospital rehab unit, as my wife and son slept half a continent away in Oregon, as I remembered my father who had passed away the year before, as I looked down on the two disco-dressed college kids who maybe hadn't been born back when I listened to Seger from that I took it all in, you were suddenly there too, dad, right beside me, or maybe it was you, Jesse, or you, mom, standing there beside me, and we couldn't help asking, twenty years now, where'd they go...

Like always, we try to make some moment last...but maybe it was all just One Night Only.

Seger at the Chances Are, circa 1973/74
Poster and photo from the incomparable collection of D. C. Jesse Burkhardt.

The Agora

In the early '70s, the Agora was one of the main rock spots in Columbus, Ohio. In April 1974, Seger played there with Ted Nugent as the opening act. Here's how one person who was there (i.e., me) described it in a letter to a friend, (Jesse), who dutifully saved for 23 years, and then returned it so I could read it again and compile this list:

"Great setting for Seger, extremely large place, hundreds of people there. Once again I was in the front, taking pictures."

Here's the annotated set list:

All Your Love ("That's from my new album, now here's a song from our last album.")
Back in '72 ("Tricky Dick, he played it sick -- someday he'll wish he was Back in '72")
Don't Burn the Bridge Behind You (You just might want to come back) (During the instrumental break Seger sings "ohh, freight train coming comes that train.")
Turn the Page (w/o Cartmell)
Lucifer ("I try to be good")
Song to Rufus ("This is for Mongrel, this is from Mongrel")
I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home ("We've probably all felt that way sometime. We've probably all done it sometime.")
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man ("Back to 1968 now.")
Bo Diddly/Who Do You Love (During the long instrumental break in "Who do you love," Seger went off stage and smoked a cigarette. I said hello to him, we talked for about a minute, then he went back and sang the rest of the song.)
If I Was A Carpenter
School Teacher (last song)
Let It Rock (encore)

What a great set, and a great time to see Seger...back when I couldn't even buy a beer. Below, the contact sheet of some photos I took during the show.

On the Road

Beautiful Loser was promoted with a full page ad in Rolling Stone. At the bottom of the ad was a list of tour dates -- 11 shows in 11 days including:

Madison, Wisconsin
St Cloud, Minnesota
St. Paul
Des Moines
Oklahoma City

Jackson County Fair

Live Bullet hit in summer '76, transforming Seger from a regional act to a national star. But some smaller tour dates had been scheduled before Live Bullet hit, and Seger honored most of them. One was in Jackson, my hometown (birthplace of the Republican Party and cold-bed of conservatism. The official motto as it appears on the city limits signs is a touch defensive: "Jackson: We like it here!")

Seger was booked to headline the Jackson County Fair on August 14, 1976. According to the papers, Punch tried to cancel the show, since Seger could now command much larger venues, but the manager of the county fair-- a local old-timer and curmudgeon named Herman Gumper -- held Punch to the contract.

I happened to be hanging around the house, having graduated from college earlier in the summer, and it marks the only time I saw Seger play my hometown -- the town where he got his start at the Roseland Inn, playing for strippers and salesmen.

Seger was in top form at the County Fair, playing Live Bullet caliber music on an outdoor stage in front of about 500 rabid fans on a cold, rainy night. He opened with Rosalie and followed with Back in '72, Travelin' Man, Beautiful Loser, Heavy Metal, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Nutbush City Limits, Katmandu, Let It Rock, Lookin' Back, Get Out of Denver and Mary Lou, among others.

But the high point was the encore and the screw-up with the lights. As the first encore ended, the house lights came up and the crowd turned for the exits. Only a few of us -- the really obsessed -- went the other way, loving Seger so much that we preferred to stay in the cold rain and watch roadies pack his amps. Yet no roadies appeared...and as I reached the edge of the stage, Seger's voice came booming over the PA as big as the voice of God: "Turn those house lights OFF!" Incredibly, the lights went dark, the crowd surged back, and the band burst on stage, breaking into "Whole Lotta Love."

The next day's paper reported that Seger had a bad cold, was coughing up blood during the show, leaving him unable to speak afterward. But at the moment when his voice came booming out, unseen -- and all through the encore -- he was radiating 100 percent rock and roll energy. It was one of those rare times when the performer brought the crowd back for more, instead of the other way around.

Another odd memory I have from the show was his mention of my hometown. Halfway through the set, he called out, "I love Jackson!" Those are three words that are rarely spoken, I would guess. Among other things, Jackson is known for the state prison (the inmates motto is not "We Like It Here," I'll bet) and for being rated the worst place in the country by Money Magazine, a thrice-won distinction.

The review in the Jackson Citizen Patriot by Scott Pohl (8-16-76) concluded "Michigan can be proud of Bob Seger. The rest of the country will know him soon enough."

As it happened, Seger did cancel his next show on the tour, which was to have been El Paso, Texas. (Yep, the old Jackson, Michigan to El Paso, Texas concert circuit. Not exactly Point A to Point B.)

Pontiac, the Michigan Jam and Other Victories

Seger's Pontiac Silverdome concert was the biggest of his career at that point (June 1976.) He played in front of 76,000 and received a $100,000 minimum -- compared to the usual $3,500-$5,000 the band was making as an opening act. Patrick Goldstein, Rolling Stone, July 29, 1976

Success "doesn't mean as much as the little victories you really savor" like playing in Pontiac. "I said to myself, 'they'll never be able to take this away from me.'" Timothy White, May 1, 1980, Rolling Stone. "The Fire This Time"

What I remember most about the Pontiac concert is that 1) Seger played "East Side Story" -- the only time I've ever heard him play it live -- and 2) someone stole our cooler (Jesse, T.L. and I were there together) and 3) Alto Reed did his solo in "Let It Rock" from atop a huge stack of amps.

The live shows of that era always featured Alto Reed in some surprising way on "Let It Rock." He'd sneak off stage and reappear atop a huge tower of amps...or the spot would swing up to the upper deck, or down in the crowd and there he'd be. Jesse and I learned to keep an eye on Alto, and we'd often nudge each other during "Let It Rock" when he slyly left the stage. For a number of shows, they rigged up a harness and he did his solo suspended over the fans. I never saw that. But the topper was at a show I did see -- The Michigan Jam, an outdoor concert in the summer of 1976 at Martin, Michigan.

Once again, T.L., Jesse and I were there together. Heart played a killer warm-up set, and then Seger and the Silver Bullet Band burned up the stage, doing a terrific set. Seger did an amazing version of "Ship of Fools," a song that never shined much for me as an album cut. "Mainstreet" took on a country flavor and came across re-energized. As the band swung into Let It Rock, a full-size hot air balloon started to grow from behind the stage,

When it came time for Reed's solo, sure enough, the spotlight swung up...and there he was, high in the cupola, rocking out for all he was worth, sending the crowd into ecstasy. What a sight it was...and what a night. I remember The Michigan Jam as one of Seger's best shows...whereas, truth be told, the Silverdome show wasn't that hot. Largely because of the sound system, the music didn't seem to have as much bite that night.

Seger on the pre-arena days: "The band was so close together in those days, because the stages were so small. Everybody would play just loud enough so they could still hear the drums. It was really a lot more fun. We played off each other more. You could say to a guy, 'Hey, I really liked that lick you played on such-and-such a song.' In places like Cobo Hall, I haven't the faintest idea what people are playing." Gary Graff, August 28, 1986, Detroit Free Press. "Bob Seger storms home tonight."

Cobo Hall

Seger in the Arena

Reviews from 1977 in Houston...

"It's extremely difficult not to like Bob Seger. In fact, it's almost impossible not to feel respect, and -- even more important -- genuine affection for the guy, simply because, after more than a decade of ups and downs, (while all of rock sometimes seemed to be going berserk around him), he has endured and prevailed..

"He did a frantic, exciting set that simply never sagged, not for one moment..." Bob Claypool, April 10, 1977, The Houston Post. "Music: Bob Seger."

And New York...

Seger "is also a fine songwriter, one whose themes celebrate the humor, vitality and sensualness that has characterized the best rock over the years....There is such drive to his music that even ballads like 'Beautiful Loser' have a sense of combustion." Robert Hilburn, May 3, 1977, Los Angeles Times. "Bob Seger Enhances Rock's Power and Glory," reviewing Seger's show at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

After Live Bullet, Seger began headlining arena shows. When he came to Minneapolis in early 1978, I was working as a writer for a local entertainment weekly. Based on my Seven album photo, I convinced the editor to let me photograph the concert for the paper. They gave me a pass that got me through the front gate, but after that it was up to me to talk my way inside the secure area immediately in front of the stage. I managed to get in and shot a roll or two before getting kicked out.

Since I had no real ticket, I had to go scrounge a seat somewhere, and I ended up way in the back. Actually, it was okay. I preferred just listening and relaxing to dealing with the photo assignment. And I'd seen Seger up close so many times, it was nice to take in the panorama.

One of my favorite Seger moments happened while I was sitting back there. Stranger in Town hadn't yet been released, but Seger played a track off it -- "The Famous Final Scene." It was just a stunning moment. The quiet energy of this new song soared through the place -- Seger seemed to have everyone in the arena right with him on every note.

I was blown away, convinced this mysterious new song would be his next single, but it never was -- though it has certainly gotten a lot of radio airplay over the years. Anyway, this was back when you could go to a Seger concert and hold out hope for hearing something new...before things got as scripted as they now seem to be.

All in all, it was a great night. But when the paper I worked for saw my photographs, they decided to publish the stock publicity shot instead. Too bad -- my photo caught the energy better, even if the angle is a bit off-kilter. But that's what makes it authentic. See for yourself.

Note how Seger's eyes are closed. It's not unusual...if you've seen him up close, you may have noticed that his eyes are often closed while he's really singing full out...I wonder if he does it on purpose, or if it's just a reaction, a sign of concentration. My photo of Seger on the back of Seven, for example, also shows him with his eyes closed.

Seger on playing in arenas: "It takes a long time to learn how to play them. Even the 3,000 to 7000 seat theaters are good to you acoustically, but the prefab stages you have to carry with you for really big shows are another thing entirely. You lose the ambience of theaters completely and there's usually a real heavy low frequency roll happening onstage. It's a little like flying blind, and you have to accept that you're not going to hear every instrument." Chris Cioe, Musician. "Bob Seger: Hymns from the heartland."

The set list for Seger's show at the Capitol Center in Maryland, 1980:

Nine Tonight
You'll Accompany Me
Still the Same
Old Time Rock & Roll
Against the Wind
Her Strut
Horizontal Bop
Fire Lake
Betty Lou's Getting Out Tonight
We've Got Tonite
Turn the Page
Fire Down Below
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Night Moves
Hollywood Nights
Rock & Roll Never Forgets
Let It Rock

After so many years as a regional artist, the relatively sudden transition to full-fledged rock star made for some strange contrasts, as illustrated by writer and Seger DEW Liner Randy Cepuch:

Cepuch: "In late 1975, I worked booking acts at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and at one point had worked out a concert there with Seger for $400 or so..but the college wouldn't approve it as nobody'd ever heard of Seger." At that time, writes Cepuch, Seger "was still contending with writers who insisted on putting two 'e's after the 'S' in his name," as well as with people "who picked up his albums by mistake when looking for folkie Pete Seeger." Randy Cepuch, The Capitol Entertainer, Oct/Nov 1978. "Bob Seger: Very little is "Still the Same."

By 1978, of course, Seger was headlining the Capitol Centre in D.C. And contending with writers who create their own contractions by using "nobody'd" for the phrase "nobody had." (Just a little inside writing humor there. FYI, Cepuch's contributions to the Springsteen mag "Backstreets" landed his byline in the Backstreets compilation book, which in turn landed in the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. And now that same byline is also in the Seger File, which means you've really hit the big time.)

Seger embarked on his first European Tour in 1980, playing in 13 countries including North America.

A Billboard Magazine ad announcing Seger's European tour.

Seger in Germany

On November 1, 1977, Seger played Offenbach, Germany. Photos by Dan Warfeld, Stars and Stripes.

And finally, according to People Magazine: "Girls have been known to strip to catch his eye during concerts." Jim Jerome, July 24, 1978, People.

[Well, if it's in People Magazine, it must be true. Or at least not a legally provable lie.]

The 1983 Tour

The 1983 tour consisted of 76 shows. The tour ended in July 1983 at the Toledo Speedway. Here's my only review fragment, torn from an issue of Playboy, with no date or author on the remaining fragment: Seger is "at his best not in a studio but in front of a live long has he been on the road, and such are his instincts, that his band has cleaned rock down to its shining bone essentials...the ghost of Otis Redding still lurks in his voice."

The '83 tour came to Seattle (where I was living at the time) on a day when I happened to be in Hawai. By 1983 I had my first "professional" job, and it was the first time in my life that I had ever taken a vacation that involved an airplane. My heart sank when I learned I would miss the chance to see Seger...but then I managed to get a ticket to the Portland, Oregon concert a few days later. It merely required that I leave work early and make a three-hour drive each way.

When I got to Portland that night around 7:00, the arena parking lot was empty. A lone security man told me the concert had been postponed one night -- Seger had a sore throat. The following night, however, I had a commitment involving a project I had worked for months to set up -- a committee meeting involving electric rates. So I was forced to choose between the responsible thing, and seeing Seger. And, like a fool -- like an utter, unforgiveable fool -- I chose responsibility over the best music on earth.

I still hadn't learned what I know now...that life would fill up with responsibility and that the moments of pure release would be harder and harder to find. But I was young then...still relatively young...and I still have the ticket for The Concert I Didn't See, Part II.

Seger in Houston in 1983. Photo by Steve Vanghel.

The set list from Seger's 1983 show at Nassau Coliseum in New York:

Feel Like A Number
Tryin' to Live My Life Without You
Roll Me Away
Old Time Rock & Roll
Makin' Thunderbirds
Shame on the Moon
House Behind A House
Even Now
Against the Wind
Her Strut
Horizontal Bop
Betty Lou
Love's the Last to Know
Turn the Page
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Night Moves
Hollywood Nights
Fortunate Son


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