Bob Seger turns 76 today, but don’t expect any sort of public celebration. He’s kept largely out of sight since his Roll Me Away farewell tour wrapped in November 2019 and his social-media platforms do little beyond promoting vinyl reissues of his old albums, though he did pop up unexpectedly on The Simpsons back in March.
Fans did have plenty of chances to say goodbye. He played 71 shows on the farewell tour over the course of a year, mixing classic hits like “Hollywood Nights,” “Turn the Page,” and “Night Moves” with fan favorites like “Travelin’ Man” and “Beautiful Loser,” and true deep cuts like “The Famous Final Scene” and “Sunspot Baby.” His vocal range may not have been quite what it was during the Live Bullet era and he sat on a stool every time he played guitar, but the shows were still very satisfying. Here’s a stellar fan-shot video of “Still the Same” in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 10th, 2019.
Most farewell tours are followed up by comeback tours (even if the act had supposedly signed a “cessation of touring agreement” that the public never got a chance to see), but Seger’s situation is different. Not only is he four years away from his 80th birthday and extremely financially secure, but the Silver Bullet Band is in tatters. Saxophonist Alto Reed died in December 2020 and bassist Chris Campbell recently filed a lawsuit against Seger and his management alleging that he wasn’t properly paid for the last few tours. (Seger and his camp have denied any wrongdoing.)
Campbell and Reed were key parts of the Silver Bullet Band going back to the early Seventies. It’s very hard to imagine a show without them, and it’s very hard to imagine Seger reversing his pledge and touring again. Fans should just be happy that he managed to get that farewell tour done before the pandemic shut down the concert industry.
But let’s all wish Seger a happy 76th birthday. Hopefully he’s spent the pandemic working on re-releases of his early albums, which have been out of print for decades. We’d also settle for a memoir or career-spanning documentary. But if doesn’t want to do any of those things, that’s fine. Seger has earned the right to do, or not do, whatever he feels like.