As Bob Seger turns 73 years old on Sunday, we took a look back on his life and tried to come up with some facts so obscure that even fans of the Detroit rock godhead might not even know them. With a tip of the hat to Bob, we enter into his birthday weekend looking, as he so often has, backward.
Seger sang a song condemning draft dodgers
In 1966, Seger made a foray into anti-protester music, singing lead on Doug Brown & the Omens’ parody of Sgt. Barry Sadler’s song “Ballad of the Green Berets.” The song, retitled as “Ballad of the Yellow Beret,” mocked those who resisted the military draft, down to the lyric: “At his physical have him say he’s gay; have him win the yellow beret.” In truth, the parody was only one of many songs aligned against hippies, including Dave Dudley’s “Vietnam Blues,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and of course, Sgt. Sadler’s original song. Soon after the parody of his song was release, Sgt. Sadler and his record label threatened to sue and the 45 was taken off the market.
Bob Seger was almost a Motown artist Thanks to the popularity of Last Heard tracks like “Heavy Music Pt. 2,” Seger and longtime manager Edward “Punch” Andrews were courted by Motown Records in 1968. Capitol Records made a less generous offer, one that Seger and Andrews accepted, feeling, as Wikipedia puts it, “Capitol was more appropriate for his genre than Motown.”
One of his songs was dedicated to a Canadian music radio director
Seger’s song “Rosalie” was about CKLW music director Rosalie Trombley. The song would later be recorded by Thin Lizzy.
It took Seger 15 years to achieve lasting national fame
Always popular on regional Detroit-area radio station, Bob Seger finally broke nationally with Live Bullet, which was recorded before a hometown audience at Detroit’s Cobo Arena. Critic Dave Marsh would call Live Bullet “one of the best live albums ever made” and that Seger sounded “like a man with one last shot at the top.” And though he could fill up the Silverdome, sometimes he’d play to audiences of fewer than 1,000 in Chicago, just 250 miles away.
Night Moves was the album that made Seger a household word, and activated his back catalog
Not only did the Night Moves album mark Seger’s first ascent into the Top Ten Album Chart, new fans were just as likely to buy Beautiful Loser and Live Bullet as well.
“Night Moves” was not animator Ralph Bashki’s choice of song for the climax of American Pop Ralph Bashki later said in an interview: “‘Night Moves’ sucks! I was furious! It was all wrong. I had a brilliant song in mind, but they just wanted too much money. I forget what it was. I’ve blocked it out.”
Seger said that “the dumbest thing I ever did” related to “Old Time Rock and Roll”
Originally written by George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III, the lyrics for “Old Time Rock and Roll” got a significant rewrite from Seger, who didn’t take the one-third writing credit. He later rued the decision, after the song was immortalized in the film Risky Business and became the second-most played jukebox single of all time.
In “Against the Wind,” when Seger cries, “Let the cowboys ride,” it’s a reference to Van Morrison, not the old West
Seger has said that, though “Against the Wind” was about his days as a track athlete in high school, his shout at the end of the song was a reference to the song “Santa Fe/Beautiful Obsession,” at the end of which the Belfast Cowboy shouts, “Let the cowboys ride!”
Bob Seger wasn’t supposed to sing the Oscar-nominated “Shakedown” that appeared in Beverly Hills Cop II
The song was supposed to have been sung by Glenn Frey (it will make sense once you hear the synth-driven melody), but voice troubles at the time of the session put Frey out of the running. Frey called his old Michigan buddy Bob Seger, who rushed to the studio, unintentionally garnering an Oscar nomination and a No. 1 pop hit.
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