The Seger File

An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger
Last updated June 1999
Edited by Scott Sparling

Influences/Other Bands:

Early Influences

At night, growing up, Seger would listen to WLAC in Nashville. After his mother and brother went to bed, he'd listen on his earphone, using a transistor radio. The disc jockey, John R. the Horseman, would play James Brown and the Famous Flames, or Garnett Mimms and the Enchanters doing 'Cry Baby.' Timothy White, June 1986, Musician Magazine. "Bob Seger forgives but doesn't forget."

Other early songs that he loved include Wilson Pickett and the Falcons 'I Found A Love,' Otis Redding's first single, 'Shout Bamalama,' James Brown's 'I'll Go Crazy.'

Seger: " I was R&B. I was a dirty white boy. Among me and my friends, the absolute favorite record was James Brown Live At The Apollo, Volume One...I learned how to sing 100 percent hard all the time, full beat stops and how to move from him." Joanne Zangrilli, November 1990, Goldmine.

The first record Seger bought was "Come Go With Me' by the Del Vikings. After that came 'Tutti-Frutti' by Little Richard and 'I Want You to be My Girl' by Frankie Lyman & the Teenagers. Seger bought records at Liberty Music on Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, a store that had a listening booth, where you could listen to records before you bought them. Singles cost 45 cents at the time -- which was a considerable sum to Seger. Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

The Righteous Brothers were another early influence. Seger said he "could've killed" to have a high range like Bobby Hatfield.Chris Cioe, Musician. "Bob Seger: Hymns from the heartland."

Seger "preferred the Stax-Volt and Southern stuff to the repetitive, Motown 'cement-beat' in the 60s, although I know Motown had some great musicians. But me and my friends, like Glenn Frey would send away for these singles, and then it was like 'Listen to this one...let this pin your ears back.'" Chris Cioe, Musician. "Bob Seger: Hymns from the heartland."

Other influences mentioned in various articles: Spencer Davis, Otis Clay (Seger covered Clay's "Trying to Live My Life Without You"), Lorraine Ellison and Ann Peebles (he covered her song, "Come to Poppa").

"Little Richard...he was the first one that really got to me. Little Richard and of course, Elvis Presley.

"James Brown was probably my biggest influence, as far as the show was concerned. I saw him 3 or 4 times while I was in high school...Dionne Warwick was with the James Brown Revue, before she was on the Specter label, she was doing R&B back then, and we used to see all those acts [Warwick, Otis Redding, Garnett Mimms and Soloman Burke].. Then, of course, James would come out with the cape and the Famous Flames and the fabulous dance steps.

"I don't know if it was because of James Brown and Little Richard, I always preferred a high energy vocal, a hard full-force vocal. I liked Little Richard better than Elvis, and I liked James Brown better than the Beatles...but the Miracles were a heavy influence on me, too...[though] I always preferred the more energized vocals." Late-1981 radio interview.

Later Influences

Regarding Springsteen, Petty, Fogerty and Mellencamp, Seger said:

"We all listen to each other. I think we all sound like each other at times. You just can't avoid it. We're all within six years of one another in age and we've all grown up on the same stuff. I've heard Tom Petty sing 'Cry To Me' by Solomon Burke and that's one of my all-time favorite records. And I've heard Bruce do the Fogerty stuff, and I just love CCR. I know Springsteen was very much affected by Van Morrison, and so was I." Roy Trakin, 1987?, Creem.

He credits Springsteen as leading the way. "Here was a guy who was not writing those 'verse, verse, chorus, verse, out' things. He was doing multiple bridges, he was changing tempos, and all this other stuff. And it worked. And not because it was Number One on the charts every week, but it worked and it was interesting and it was different." Dave Marsh, June 15, 1978, Rolling Stone. "Bob Seger: Not A Stranger Anymore."

Mentioning Frankie Miller, Graham Parker, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Money and Warren Zevon, Seger said: "There's a whole little clique of male vocalists. We're just sort of all connected. I think every last one of us has a connection with Van Morrison."

"I got from him [Van Morrison] a sense of commitment. I heard like six straight albums that were not always exactly similar but they were committed in that one direction, white R&B. Blammo, nothing else. Maybe a little bit of country, maybe a little bit of jazz, but basically headed in that one direction. He was committed. And that to me was really important, his consistency was fantastic." Dave Marsh, June 15, 1978, Rolling Stone. "Bob Seger: Not A Stranger Anymore."

[Interestingly, I remember reading a short, bitter comment from Van Morrison --many years ago -- saying he had checked out Seger and was angered because Seger "stole my act." Of course, this ignored the fact that Van Morrison wasn't doing his act at the time. He had become a recluse.]

"One of the things I patterned my writing and career after, one of the people was Van Morrison....there were about seven or eight albums in a row, and they were consistently good. Van Morrison's albums never sounded the same to me, and I think that was one of the things I really admired about him and I tried to pattern myself after." Radio Interview, World Premier of The Fire Inside, with Redbeard

Seger on Van Morrison: "He has this great poetic...and fantastic voice...and what I love about Van, and what I forget to do sometimes is, well...I can tell when Van is just like drifting into sort of a zone...he just drifts into a place where the whole world is shut out and you can tell that he's in that spot. It's almost a dream-like, trance-like state, singing sometimes. That's really what music is all about. It's almost a jazz concept if you know what I just kinda go out and you're just...wingin' it...and I love that about Van, he will risk that, he will go on and on and on...and he won't fade the ending before the magic happens, as it were." Interview on Later with Bob Costas.

Comments on Other Performers

In 1978, he said his favorite singer was Scottish rock and roller Frankie Miller. In a 1986 interview, Seger said he, Henley and Frey were all big fans of Miller, and that they wanted to work together, but never had time. Timothy White, June 1986, Musician Magazine. "Bob Seger forgives but doesn't forget."

Commenting on the Detroit Scene circa mid-1980s, Seger said he like Norma Jean Bell, a singer in jazz-blues-rock band.

Seger told Timothy White in 1986 that "Nobody is playing, singing or saying what I'm driving at...with more eloquence than Jackson [Browne]." Timothy White, June 1986, Musician Magazine. "Bob Seger forgives but doesn't forget."

To another interviewer, Seger commented that Browne's "Lives in the Balance" was constantly on Seger's turntable.

"I really admire writers like Joni Mitchell," he told Rolling Stone in 1991. "I wish I could get up to that level, but I am who I am. So I just do my best." Kevin Ransom, October 21, 1995, The Detroit News. "Seger's seen a new light, but hasn't quit the darkness."

In 1991, Seger said he was excited about country singer Shelby Lynne. Susan Whitall, August 24, 1991, The Detroit News. "Long Way Home"

Duck Soup, a band from Austin Texas, played at Seger's wedding.

Recently, Seger said he listens to and admires 'fringe' artists like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed. He was quick to add that he also likes the more mainstream music Tom Petty and Don Henley, but as to what he likes best, Seger said "I really gravitate to the fringes." The Mr. Showbiz Interview Archive: Bob Seger, by Gary Graff, November 17, 1995.

"I like the new bands. Anybody who has that rock 'n' roll spirit is all right with me. And there are a lot of them out there." Fred Shuster, February 2, 1996, Los Angeles Daily News. "Still the same enduring rocker Bob Seger finds a niche in the '90s"

"I think Oasis is very interesting. They're coming off a little arrogant, which I don't think is going to help, but I think they're quite good...I loved Nirvana. That was really sad, because I thought that guy (Kurt Cobain) really had it. He seemed to really have rock in his spirit." Roger Catlin, April 12, 1996, Hartford Courant. "Bob Seger's back - with his kids."

In March 1997, Seger said he was blown away by John Fogerty's live show.

And one comment on Seger -- from Charlie Grove, the drummer for the Detroit band, Sponge: "I love Seger. I knew the 'Live Bullet' album backwards and far as I was concerned, Bob Seger was the man." Brian McCollum, March 8, 1996, Detroit Free Press. "Fans snapped up tickets for Palace show."

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