Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” finally reaches No. 1 on Billboard this week in 1980. The album was actually released the last week in February, taking 8 weeks to secure the top spot as it overtook Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” You may not realize it, but “Against the Wind was Seger’s 11th album! The record spent six weeks at No. 1 and ended up being the only number-one album Seger has ever had. He released his first album, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”, in 1969. That and the nine other albums the preceded “Against the Wind” generally garnered favorable reviews from critics. He was actually one of the top live acts in the Detroit, Michigan area and could reliably sell 50,000 to 100,000 albums to his regional fan base. He finally gained national attention with the back-to-back releases of “Live Bullet” and “Night Moves” in 1976, which were recorded with his Silver Bullet Band. The “Night Moves” album was his first to break into Billboard’s top ten. Robert “Bob” Seger actually got started in the Detroit music scene in 1961, when he was just 16 years old. His stints playing with several popular local cover bands helped provided him a preliminary fan base when he decided to go solo and start playing his own music. He performed and recorded under Bob Seger and the Last Heard and Bob Seger System until putting together the Silver Bullet Band in the 70s. Heavy touring in support of 1975’s “Beautiful Loser” garnered Seger a loyal grassroots following across the country, helping to cement the success of “Against the Wind” a few years later. Interestingly, the hit album was originally panned by a lot of critics that also counted themselves a long-time fans. Rock critic Dave Marsh, writing for Rolling Stone, said, “I’d like to say that this is not only the worst record Bob Seger has ever made, but an absolutely cowardly one as well.” Seger openly admits that he deliberately set out to write a number one record with “Against the Wind”, though. He dialed back the driving rock pulse, added some pop-music sensibilities, and successfully crafted an album that top 40 radio stations and listeners couldn’t resist. He released a handful of other albums throughout the 80s and 90s, but one of his best known hits probably came from the soundtrack of the 1987 Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack. “Shakedown” ended up earning Seger an Academy Award nomination, though interestingly enough, he actually wrote the song for fellow Detroit-native Glenn Fry, former frontman of The Eagles. Fry lost his voice right as the recording sessions were starting, so he called in Seger to take his place. Seger took an 11 year hiatus starting in 1995 to dedicate time to his wife and two children. The sabbatical was briefly interrupted in 2004 when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but little was heard from the famous rocker until he released “Face the Promise” in 2006. Seger’s music continues to be a mainstay of classic rock, but fans might be surprised at how difficult it is to get their hands on one of his records. He has only one album available in digital format – 2014’s “Ride Out.” On top of that, most of his albums aren’t even in print any longer. In fact, only six of his total 17 recordings are available to purchase on his own website. Used copies of his first seven albums start around $30, and go as high as $200, if you can find one. It is a bizarre circumstance considering re-releasing material in the latest formats is incredibly lucrative for both artists and labels. It’s hard to really know why he seems to have so little interest in perpetuating his musical legacy, but it’s been suggested that he just doesn’t want to deal with the business side, which he leaves entirely to the discretion of his long-time manager Edward Punch. And Punch argues that he is preserving Seger’s vision as a complete “album” artist, preferring not to have them streamed as singles. (Sources: NPR, AllMusic, Wikipedia)
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