Bob Seger's decision to go on tour this spring was as much as a shock to the singer's team of advisors as it was to his fans. "Real quietly, without anybody knowing it, they booked 40 to 50 dates for him last year," a source close to Seger tells Rolling Stone. "It just came up too quickly and Bob walked away from them. All of a sudden in January he called up and said 'Let's do it now.' They had to say to him 'No, we don't have time. We need another two to three months to get it ready.' It's been a real scramble for them.'"
Seger's team has booked 20 to 30 dates for a two-and-a-half month American arena tour (that was announced earlier this week on a teaser video on his website) that kicks off in March. The first batch of dates are going to be announced next week, but the details are still being worked out. For one thing, ticket price points have yet to be finalized. More crucially, Seger's drummer Don Brewer's tour schedule with Grand Funk Railroad has complicated matters. "That's been a horrendous problem," says the source. "They have to work everything around that."
The setlist will focus on Seger's deep catalog of hits, but it will also feature select tracks from Seger's upcoming 17th studio LP. "Right now he probably has half of an album that he's happy with," says the source. "Whether or not he finishes it this summer, he'll probably go back out in the fall and do even more dates."
Seger hopes that the album will come out sometime this summer, but that could easily change. "He's been known to finish an album in two months," says the source. "He's also been known to take a year. Record companies used to put out albums just one month after you finish it. Bob still thinks that's all you need. Now they want six months. It's a huge fight every time and it's scary because he makes changes right up to the end."
Seger's first seven albums have been out of print for decades, much to frustration of his fans. That situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. "He keeps going back and forth about that," says the source. "Maybe he just doesn't want to take the time to do it? They actually called some people to re-release them a little while ago, but Bob wasn't comfortable with what they wanted so they didn't do it. They hope to keep working towards it."
Only three new Seger albums have hit shelves since Soundscan began tabulating sales in 1991, but he's still sold nearly 20 million records in that time. (Bruce Springsteen has released eight albums of new material in that same time and only sold about a million more records.) His 1994 Greatest Hits CD is consistently one of Billboard's top selling catalog albums and hits such as "Turn The Page," "Night Moves," Old Time Rock and Roll" and "Hollywood Nights" are in constant rotation on classic rock radio.
When he returned to the road in 2006 after an 11-year absence he quickly sold out most of the tour with very little promotion. Even in a bad economy, that's likely to be the situation this time around as well.