This month Martin Cooper checks out The Silver Bullet Band’s leader, Bob Seger, whose sound can be heard in some of today’s ‘household name’ megastars.
Michigan born Bob Seger has influenced a host of rock icons over the past five decades. He can boast Springsteen and The Eagles among his fans, and even has a writing credit on the band’s hit, Heartache Tonight, from the album The Long Run.
Recording through the 60s as Bob Seger & The Last Heard and Bob Seger System, he became a local hero around the Detroit area; the first Last Heard album sold 50,000 copies at the time, mostly locally. Then in the late 60s Seger scored his first nationwide hit with Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man under the Bob Seger System name, with the song reaching a creditable Number 17 in the US chart.
After moderate success upon going solo, Seger formed The Silver Bullet Band with guitarist Drew Abbott, drummer Charlie Martin, Rick Mannassa on keys, Chris Campbell on bass and sax player Tom Cartmell. After playing to tens of thousands locally, including to 80,000 in a Detroit stadium, Seger and The Silver Bullet Band finally tasted national success with the album Night Moves, which has since sold over six million copies!
Seger was a mentor to Glenn Frey in The Eagles’ early days. In 1980 he scored his only Number 1 album with Against The Wind which actually features Eagles, Frey, Timothy B Schmit and Don Henley, and also went on to earn Seger two Grammy awards. He has continued to record and tour, and recently released his latest album, Ride Out.
This month’s piece focuses on the rockier side of Seger’s style (although a lot of his output has been heavily influenced by acoustic guitar compositions).
We’re in the key of A Major, but being based around a 12-bar progression of A, D and E, in the solo there are a lot of notes from the A Blues scale (the Minor Pentatonic with added b5 - A-C-D-Eb-E-G). The solo features a blend of phrasing that alternates between A Major Pentatonic (A B C# E F#) and A Minor Blues scale (A C D Eb E G).
In the rhythm part we opt for the more American sounding Major Blues scale; this is sometimes called the Country Blues scale and this time is the Major Pentatonic with added b3 (A-B-C-C#-E-F#).
Although not a particularly tricky track to learn, the tempo is pretty quick so timing and accuracy are of utmost importance. Your number one watchword is: ‘Don’t Rush’!
Bob Seger with modified Tele Thinline