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Bob Seger recalls Alto Reed's cancer diagnosis, says he couldn't go on tour without him

·3 min read

An emotional Bob Seger said he can't imagine hitting the concert road again following the loss of close friend and saxophonist Alto Reed.

Speaking on a new SiriusXM program marking the 45th anniversary of his "Live Bullet" and "Night Moves" albums, Seger choked up as he recounted the phone call from the longtime Silver Bullet Band player revealing he had colon cancer. Reed died Dec. 30 at age 72.

"I listened really hard to him," Seger recalled. "And he said 'how grateful I am for my wonderful life.' ... I thought that was so beautiful, and I thought he was so brave. I don't think I could go out (on tour) without him."

Rock journalist David Fricke was host as Seger beamed in by Zoom from metro Detroit for the hourlong program, part of SiriusXM's Town Hall series. The show premiered Wednesday on the Classic Rewind channel and will air again Friday (1 a.m., 3 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m., 9 p.m.) and Sunday (6 p.m.). It's also available on demand on the SiriusXM app. Video of the program is also expected soon.

Bob Seger (left) and Alto Reed of the Silver Bullet Band.
Bob Seger (left) and Alto Reed of the Silver Bullet Band.

Seger and Silver Bullet played extensively in 2019 as part of the Roll Me Away Tour, which was billed at the time as "a final tour" but with no firm end date ever announced. The last show on that 2019 leg was Nov. 1 in Philadelphia. The outing did nearly $100 million in box-office revenue that year, making it the third most successful tour of 2019.

"You know, I've had a great life, oh my goodness," Seger said as he elaborated on the end of his touring career. "I loved what I did. Never worked a day in my life, really. The hard parts were in sleeping in hotels, having rotten food."

Seger, who turned 76 in May, went on to add: "I'm a lucky guy. What can I say? I got to do what I wanted to do."

It was a poignant grace note to an otherwise upbeat, freewheeling conversation, as Seger looked back on the pair of 1976 albums that broke him into the big time — the moment when "we went from station wagons to jets overnight."

Bob Seger's 'Live Bullet' album, recently remastered and reissued on vinyl.
Bob Seger's 'Live Bullet' album, recently remastered and reissued on vinyl.

Seger said he recently listened to "Live Bullet" for the first time in many years and was once again "stunned" by the musicianship and discipline on display from Silver Bullet.

There was little pressure going into the hometown September 1975 shows at Detroit's Cobo Arena that resulted in the live record, Seger said.

"Honestly, it was just kind of another show. But the size of it was really fun," he remembered. "We had opened for Bachman Turner Overdrive and Kiss on occasion, and had been in large places. But now it’s all on us, and there’s no limit on what we can play because we’re the headliner. … Suddenly we’re unleashed. I just think we were ready for it."

Bob Seger announces final tour dates; he's retiring from the road after 56 years

The "Live Bullet" double LP was recently remastered and reissued on vinyl, in both a standard 150-gram black version and a translucent orange-and-red swirl edition.

Seger said he has been vaccinated for COVID-19 and plans to soon attend Bruce Springsteen's relaunched Broadway show along with a concert by country star Chris Stapleton, who's playing DTE Energy Music Theatre on Aug. 6 and 7.

He said last year was tough on him as he struggled with the pandemic and the prospect of retirement. Springsteen encouraged him to get busy with songwriting.

"I was getting kind of down on myself, down on the world and down on everything," said Seger. "(Springsteen) said, 'Bob, go out there and start writing, start singing, start playing, start recording.'"

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Bob Seger shares how Silver Bullet's Alto Reed revealed colon cancer

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