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Bob Seger - '80s Heartland Singer-Songwriter

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Bob Seger Jack Vartoogian/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Born:

Robert Clark Seger on May 6, 1945 in Detroit, Michigan

Overview:

One of the finest '70s and '80s practitioners of heartland rock, Bob Seger began his career as a full-tilt Detroit rocker before evolving into a writer of highly literate story songs who connected with a large pop audience. During his peak era that stretched into the late '80s, Seger was a fixture on rock radio, in arenas and even on the pop charts. His appeal has proven to be equally versatile, as fans of classic rock, hard rock, arena rock, folk and singer-songwriter styles have always been among his devotees.

Early Years:

Seger spent his early years living in the Detroit suburbs, the son of a musician father who eventually settled into a job at a Ford auto plant. After relocating to Ann Arbor, the younger Seger got into rock music early on, starting his first band as a teen and releasing a tough brand of rock and roll akin to contemporaries the MC5 and the Stooges in the late '60s. He first made his mark with 1969's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and thus began a flirtation with the pop charts that would deepen as he began to move away from hard rock.

Bob Seger - Heartland Rock's Prototype:

Through the '70s, Seger continued to release his share of spirited rockers while tempering that approach somewhat with more contemplative, socially conscious singer-songwriter material. But his hard work didn't really receive notice until he perfected this folk-rock formula in the latter part of the decade. Classic rock staples like "Turn the Page," "Night Moves" and "Still the Same" perfectly, soulfully and genuinely exploited Seger's strengths as a singer and songwriter.

Enduring Stardom & Influence:

By 1980's Against the Wind, Seger had executed his marriage of mid-tempo rock and soulful ballads so efficiently that audiences had almost begun to take him for granted. But during this period Seger the songwriter truly began to mature, writing his best songs about the painful and complicated process of aging and the perpetual loss of innocence we call everyday living. "Even Now" and "Roll Me Away" are two of his most transcendent if most underrated songs of this type.

Scarce But Not Faded Away:


In terms of output, Seger may have been far less active during the '80s than in the decade before, but that didn't make him any less important as an artist or music icon. John Mellencamp succeeded Seger on the heartland rock throne, but the latter continues to find favor across a bevy of genres. Sporting admirers from Kid Rock to Metallica, Seger remains a vital cog in rock music's ever-revolving wheel.

Vital Bob Seger Statistics:

  • Released an impressive six straight Top 10 albums during his peak period between 1977's Night Moves and 1986's Like a Rock.
  • Scored eight Top 10 hits on the Billboard singles chart.
  • His 1994 all-too-brief Greatest Hits has sold more than 6 million copies and continues to enjoy great popularity.
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