Bob Seger moves ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ into the digital age

Seger’s older now, but still runnin’ against the wind.
SCOTT LEGATO/GETTY IMAGES

If you’ve ever looked for songs by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band on digital outlets, you have likely been disappointed when the search yielded results by artists with names like Night Moves and The Ultimate Bob Seger Cover Band. And next to the song titles you would have seen parenthetical disclaimers like “as made famous by Bob Seger.”

But the classic rocker’s reluctance to go digital has finally subsided. This year has seen the digital release of two classic live albums, a rarities collection and Seger’s new ultimate hits compilation, “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” which came out online on the same day it appeared in stores.

“I just felt it was time,” says Seger. “We’re one of the last ones to do it, and I felt like I would like to have people have the opportunity to get it. As it goes along, we’re still doing it piecemeal. But that’s my management’s decision, and I don’t question that. I’ve had the same guy for 45 years. … So I’m not going to question how he does business.”

There are a few surprising revelations in the last portion of that quote: First, that Seger has been in the business for at least 45 years. And second, that he would have such loyalty to the same manager in an industry where the business is historically so fickle.

But devotion and dedication are  hallmarks of his career. Throughout an hour-long discussion, Seger makes sure to give his Silver Bullet Band members due credit.

“I love the way Alto played horn on it,” he enthuses about sax man Alto Reed’s part on the powerful road warrior ballad, “Turn the Page.” And he’s also quick to cite how he loves the energy that drummer Don Brewer brings to “Hollywood Nights.”

As for his career’s timespan, that’s well chronicled in the title track of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”

“I had like 12 years before I ever made any money,” he says. “We did a lot of clubs, a lot of high schools,  you name it. And then after 12 years — in 1975 — I broke through.”

And he’s been here ever since, like a rock.

Rock and Roll Never Forgets (but sometimes it gets the dates wrong)

The history of rock has al-ways played a role in Se-ger’s songwriting. In his classic, “Night Moves,” he recounts, “I was humming a song from 1962.” So, what was that song?

“Oh, I’m glad you asked that,” he enthuses. “‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes! And then I was fortunate enough — about 10 years ago — to meet Ronnie and tell her that, and she’s such a sweet kid, Ronnie Spector, and she told me something that just blew my mind, that she tried to sing like Frankie Lymon … from the 1950s, and I never put the two together. And then I listened to her and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s right!’”

One thing that wasn’t right though: It turns out that “Be My Baby” actually came out in the summer of 1963. It is not without embarrassment that this repor-ter delivers this correction to such a legendary singer.

“Oh wow,” he says with a surprised laugh. “Well, yeah, but I wrote the song in ’76, so I was already too old and getting my dates wrong!”


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